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MATTHEWS, NC-Family Dollar Stores expects to open about 200 new stores in the coming fiscal year, about even with openings in fiscal 2008, executives said at the company’s fourth-quarter conference call. Store closings also will remain at about historical levels, between 70 and 80 stores. During fiscal 2008, the company opened 205 new stores and closed 64 stores.

“With the long lead times in real estate, with many of those projects taking 12 to 18 months, we have seen some real nice returns from that work,” said Howard R. Levine, chairman and CEO. “I’ve never been as confident in the new stores we are opening as I am today, and our team’s ability to open up more new stores.”

The company also plans to renovate 200 more units to its “concept renewal” format, which boosts the amount of food and consumables in the store, and to upgrade the technology in approximately 1,300 stores. “We will be doing more and more renovations over time,” Levine said.

Net income for the fourth quarter increased 40.7% from the previous year to $53.2 million. Sales for the quarter were $1.8 billion, up 8.2% from the previous year. Comparable-store sales rose 5.6%.

For the year, sales were $7 billion, up 2.2% from fiscal 2007 (a 53-week year). Comparable store sales (for the comparable 52-week period in both years) increased 1.2%. Net income for fiscal 2008 was $233.1 million compared to $242.9 million in fiscal 2007.The company operates more than 6,500 stores in 44 states.

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