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PLEASANTON, CA-With the economic environment favoring value fashion, Ross Stores sees a 500-store potential for its dd’s Discount’s division, executives said at the company’s second-quarter conference call.

While the company is continuing with its plan to expand Ross Dress for Less units in existing markets through 2010, it is spending the rest of the year examining dd’s short-term expansion potential.

“I think it’s very likely we’re going to ramp up,” said Michael B. O’Sullivan, executive vice president and chief administrative officer.

The company had stepped back from expanding the urban-oriented chain in 2007, and went through an analysis of its customer and locations.

“Then the economy slowed,” O’Sullivan continued. “The dd’s customer in particular has been squeezed by the economic environment.”<pSales for the 13 weeks ended August 1, 2009 increased 8% to $1.769 billion, with comparable store sales up 3% on top of a strong 6% gain in the prior year. Net earnings were a record $103.4 million, up 45% from $71.3 million in the second quarter of 2008.

For the first six months of 2009, sales were $3.46 billion, up 8% from the year-ago half. Comparable-store sales rose 3%. Net earnings were a record $194.8 million, compared to $150.8 million in the prior year period.

As of Aug. 1, Ross Stores operated 939 Ross Dress for Less (“Ross”) stores and 51 dd’s Discounts units.

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