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Kohl’s to test smaller stores; close some

** ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND, JUNE 1-2 ** Shoppers depart a Kohl's store in Burlington, Mass., Thursday, May 30, 2002. The Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based company, which sells moderate-price brands using a mass-market approach, is fast becoming a formidable threat to department stores. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Kohl’s plans to test a smaller store and get into the outlet business.

Kohl’s also intends to close 18 underperforming stores. The company said it will announce by the end of March which stores will close. The Menomonee Falls company has 1,164 stores in 49 states.

Kohl’s expects to open seven smaller versions of its department stores this year and open a dozen Fila outlet stores, marking its entry into the outlet business.

“We see exciting growth potential in the new stores and new formats that we are opening this year,” Kevin Mansell, Kohl’s chairman, president and CEO, said in a news release.

“While the decision to close stores is a difficult one, we evaluated all of the elements that contribute to making a store successful, and we were thoughtful and strategic in our approach.”

Kohl’s Corp. on Thursday reported fourth-quarter sales increased slightly while net income decreased by 20 percent compared with the year-earlier period. The company reported sales of $6.38 billion in the three months ended Jan. 30, up from $6.33 billion a year earlier. Net income was $296 million, or $1.58 per diluted share, down from $369 million, or $1.83 per share, a year earlier.

“I am particularly encouraged by the 4 percent increase [in same-store sales] we saw between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Mansell said. “At the most competitive time in retail, customers were choosing Kohl’s.”

“This strength, however, was substantially offset by softness in early November and in January when demand for cold-weather goods was especially low, resulting in a quarterly comparable sales increase of 0.4%, which was below our expectations.”

For the year, Kohl’s reported sales of $19.2 billion in the year ended Jan. 30, up from $19 billion a year earlier. Net income was $673 milion, or $3.46 per diluted share, down from $867 million, or $4.24 per share, a year earlier.

This year, the company’s forecast sales to be little changed, expecting a range of between down 0.5 percent to up 0.5 percent. Same-store sales are forecast to be flat or up by 1 percent.

Kohl’s said it expects $825 million of capital expenditures this year.