What's In Store

Belk continues to grow its footprint under new ownership

The Belk store at Northlake Mall in April 2015. The retailer plans to open two new stores in Kentucky and Georgia this fall.
The Belk store at Northlake Mall in April 2015. The retailer plans to open two new stores in Kentucky and Georgia this fall. mhames@charlotteobserver.com

Just over a year after being sold to a private equity group, Charlotte-based Belk continues to open new stores even as it shutters underperforming ones: The retailer recently announced plans to open two new locations this year in Kentucky and Georgia.

Renovation work on the Bowling Green, Kent., store, which will be in a 68,000 square-foot former Macy’s in Greenwood Mall, will begin in April, Belk said in a statement. Construction will begin in February on the new 85,000 square-foot department store in Mullins Colony in Evans, Ga., near Augusta.

Both stores are expected to open this fall, Belk added.

“These new stores will reflect Belk’s commitment to modern Southern style and will feature an enhanced shopping experience for customers, most-wanted fashions and premium brand assortments,” Belk said.

Opening new stores jibes with plans the retailer’s former management voiced as new ownership – New York-based Sycamore Partners – took over.

After announcing his retirement plans last year, former CEO Tim Belk said the company will “always prune the underperforming stores,” expand its share in existing markets and open new stores in contiguous markets.

Since the new owners took over, Belk has closed stores in Culpeper, Va., Eden, N.C., Union, S.C., and earlier this month, Jacksonville, Fla.. It has opened a store in Euless, Texas.

Belk currently operates 293 stores in 16 southeastern states. A decade ago, Belk had 311 stores.

Belk’s plans come as other department stores struggle. Macy’s, for example, amid another slump in sales and earnings, last summer announced plans to sell 100 underperforming stores nationwide and focus more on e-commerce. Macy’s is readying to close its location soon at Carolina Place Mall.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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