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Hot Convenience and Department Stores Growing at Fastest Rate, According to STORES Magazine List

Click here to read the STORES article and see a list of the 2007 Hot 100 Retailers.

For Immediate Release
Contact: Ellen Davis or Scott Krugman (202) 783-7971
Email: davise@nrf.com or krugmans@nrf.com 

Hot Convenience and Department Stores Growing at Fastest Rate,
According to STORES
Magazine List
--One-Fourth of Hot 100 Retailers are Restaurant Companies--

Washington, July 31, 2007 – Though the retail industry grew 6.4 percent* as a whole last year, a handful of fiery companies served as the pace car for others to follow. The Hot 100 Retailers list, to be unveiled in the August issue of STORES magazine, highlights the retail companies that reported the greatest year-over-year revenue percentage growth. All public companies with more than $100 million in sales were eligible for the list, which provides a definitive ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing retailers.

This is the second year for the Hot 100, which is sponsored by Alliance Data. According to the list, the convenience store group experienced the highest growth last year with a 21.9 percent boost in sales. The department store sector continued its resurgence with 21.5 percent growth.

“Smaller companies must be innovative risk-takers to compete with mega-brands—and many of them are winning,” said Susan Reda, Executive Editor of STORES. “Mid-sized retailers can also implement new ideas more quickly than large competitors. With a flawless combination of creativity and cost savings, the Hot 100 Retailers are setting the curve for the rest of the industry.”

While all but four of the Hot 100 Retailers saw double-digit sales increases in 2006, a handful of companies stood out from the pack. Many of the Hot 100 Retailers grew through acquisitions. The Bon-Ton Stores (#1), which was once an overlooked regional department store chain, tops the list this year with a revenue increase of 164.3 percent, due largely to its acquisition of what was once Saks’ northern department store division. GameStop (#2)—in second place this year after topping the inaugural Hot 100 list—can also trace its 72 percent growth to an acquisition, the 2005 purchase of EB Games. The company opened its 1,000th international store in June and has continuing momentum due to the current strength of the video game market. Convenience store chain The Pantry (# 5) also saw its revenues grow from multiple acquisitions.

As American consumers become increasingly time-strapped, restaurants are playing a greater role in their day-to-day lives. The Hot 100 Retailers list was redefined this year to include quick serve and casual dining restaurants, with interesting results. Nearly one-fourth (23) of the Hot 100 Retailers are restaurant companies, including three—Triarc (#3), BJ’s Restaurants (#6) and Buffalo Wild Wings (#9)—in the Top 10.

Other companies in the Top 10 are in the specialty apparel category. Zumiez (#4) sells active sports apparel, footwear and accessories for board sports, motocross and bicycle motocross. Multichannel retailer Coldwater Creek (#7) is focusing on opening new stores, with 65 new locations last year and as many planned in 2007. Charlotte Russe (#8), a chain targeting women in their teens and twenties, is a part of the volatile fast-fashion segment. Citi Trends (#10), a value-priced family apparel retailer located primarily in the southeast and mid-Atlantic, rounds out the Top 10.

“Retailers can no longer deliver just a product; it’s about the end-to-end experience for consumers,” said Ivan Szeftel, president of Retail Services for Alliance Data. “This year’s Hot 100 Retailers are leading the way in creating their own formula for growth that centers around the customer. As a provider of co-brand and private label credit card services for a number of retailers on this list, we strive to help retailers raise the return on their customer relationships and deliver the experience customers are demanding. The retailers on this list continue to show innovation and persistence. Congratulations to this year’s Hot 100 Retailers on your achievement.”

Alliance Data (NYSE: ADS) is a leading provider of marketing, loyalty and transaction services, managing over 120 million consumer relationships for some of North America's most recognizable companies. Using transaction-rich data, Alliance Data creates and manages customized solutions that change consumer behavior and that enable its clients to create and enhance customer loyalty to build stronger, mutually beneficial relationships with their customers. Headquartered in Dallas, Alliance Data employs over 9,000 associates at more than 60 locations worldwide. Alliance Data’s brands include AIR MILES®, North America’s premier coalition loyalty program, and Epsilon®, a leading provider of multi-channel, data-driven technologies and marketing services. For more information about the company, visit its web site, www.AllianceData.com.

STORES is the official magazine of the National Retail Federation.

The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry's key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees—about one in five American workers—and 2006 sales of $4.7 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents more than 100 state, national and international retail associations. www.nrf.com


*According to NRF, 2006 retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles,
gas stations, and restaurants) rose 6.4 percent unadjusted over 2005.