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Burlington expanding with smaller stores

Burlington is busy modernizing and growing its store fleet, executives said on an earnings call.

Last year the retailer remodeled 34 stores and also opened 37 new ones amounting to 45,000 square feet. The company intends to remodel an additional 34 stores this year.

In many cases, Burlington found that stores it downsized reported improved customer-service ratings, says President, Chairman and CEO Thomas Kingsbury. At the end of 2017, the chain’s stores that were smaller than 60,000 gross square feet ended up being 22 percent more productive than the chain average, he says.

The chain has much room to grow, Kingsbury says. “We only operated 629 stores at year-end,” he said. “Most mature, national retailers operate with well over a 1,000 stores — far more than our current footprint. “We expect to open 35 to 40 net new stores in 2018, which includes 60 gross new stores averaging 43,000 square feet, along with 20 to 25 store relocations and closings.”

For the fourth quarter, the company's same-store sales grew by 5.9 percent, driven primarily by an increase in traffic. Same-store sales grew by 3.4 percent in 2017 following a strong 4.5 percent comparable-store sales gain the previous year.

For the first quarter of 2018, the retailer is anticipating a same-store sales increase of between 2 and 3 percent.

By Brannon Boswell

Managing Editor/SCT

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