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HAMPSTEAD, MD-JoS. A. Bank Clothiers will open more and smaller stores in order to establish better relationships with its customers, executives said at the company’s third-quarter conference call. Plans call for opening 50 stores annually for the near future to achieve a goal of “at least” 600 stores nationwide, said Robert N. Wildrick, CEO and executive chairman.

By fiscal year-end, the company will have opened approximately 50 stores, ending with between 425 and 450 units. “We prefer to open more stores, instead of larger stores far from the customer,” Wildrick said. “This allows us to know our customers and have a relationship with them.”

In addition, diversifying the store base will reduce the impact of any poor real estate decisions, and cut back on customer driving. “Core” markets, such as Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, will remain key to the expansion.

Sales for the quarter were $131.3 million, up from $119.5 million in the same quarter of the previous year. Comp-store sales rose 3.1%. Earnings for the quarter were $7.1 million, up from $5.5 million in the year-ago quarter.

The locally based men’s apparel retailer operates 415 stores in 42 states and the District of Columbia.

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