Nebraska Furniture Mart Gunning For Texas

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Omaha, Neb. - Nebraska Furniture Mart (NFM) may be heading to The Lone Star State.

The 74-year-old CE, appliance and home-furnishings emporium is planning to build a $1.5 billion, 430-acre mixed-use complex in the North Dallas suburb of The Colony that would house stores, movie theaters, a convention center and its own two-story, 1.8 million-square-foot retail, warehouse and office facility.

The NFM showroom alone would be about 550,000 square feet, executive VP Bob Batt told TWICE, or 100,000 square feet larger than the company's megastore in Kansas City, Kan.

Construction on the project, which could attract 8 million visitors and generate upward of $800 million in revenue annually, could begin as soon as March, pending certain zoning and tax procedures and approval of the city council. Batt said the company is "extremely optimistic" that the development will get the go-ahead, and is projecting a 2015 opening.

Texas represents the third multiregional foray for Omaha-based NFM, which operates two showrooms in Iowa and opened the Kansas City complex in 2003.

The move into the Lone Star State would also put the Berkshire-Hathaway-held business in direct competition with Conn's, the Texas-based appliance, CE and furniture chain. Both retailers belong to the NATM Buying Corp., the 11-dealer buying organization whose bylaws preclude members from encroaching on each other's trading areas.

Batt said it was premature to comment on the conflict with Conn's and NATM president/executive director Bill Trawick was mid-flight at press time.

Batt noted that NFM had been searching for new terrain since the Kansas City opening, when owner Warren Buffet observed, "This is great - we should do this again." The company has since "done a lot of due diligence," Batt said, and described Texas as "a fascinating, positive market and a fabulous opportunity."

He added: "We don't open a store a week. We're very patient."


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