Discount Retail Variety Chain Ross Stores remains committed to growing the national footprint of its two store banners in fiscal 2021, but at a more modest pace compared to recent years when it routinely opened some 100 stores annually.
The off-pricer opened four Ross stores and three dd's Discounts stores across five different states in February and March. The openings are part of the approximately 60 new stores, 40 Ross Dress for Less and 20 dd’s Discounts locations, that Ross plans to open during fiscal 2021.
“With regard to our expansion plans, we remain very optimistic about our longer-term growth opportunities,” stated CEO Barbara Rentler. “That said, we planned a more moderate pace of store openings this year, especially in the spring.”
On the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, Rentler said that, looking long-term, Ross and dd's are both well-positioned in the off-price sector as consumers continue to favor retailers focused on delivering both value and convenience.
Ross Stores currently operates 1,866 Ross Dress for Less locations and dd's Discounts locations across 40 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam.
“As we look out over the long-term, we remain confident that Ross can grow to 2,400 store locations and dd's Discounts can become a chain of 600 stores given consumers' ongoing focus on value and convenience,” said Gregg McGillis, group executive VP, property development.
Last week, Ross reported that its sales for the fourth quarter totaled US$4.25 billion, down from US$4.41 in the year-ago period. Same-store sales fell 6% amid the upsurge of COVID-19 during the holiday selling season.
“While our fourth quarter sales exceeded our expectations, the upsurge of the virus resulted in lower traffic, especially in California, our largest state, where we were subject to more stringent occupancy and operating hour restrictions,” said Rentler.
The company’s board has authorized the reinstatement of the quarterly cash dividend at a rate of US$0.285 per share. This quarterly dividend is payable on March 31, 2021 to stockholders of record as of March 16, 2021.
“The resumption of our dividend payout in 2021 reflects our strong cash position and confidence in the company’s long-term prospects,” Rentler said.