Wards' Remodel Program Enjoys GE Boost

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CHICAGO -- Montgomery Ward has been given $100 million by parent GE Capital. Wards, which is wholly owned by GE Capital, will use the cash to maintain its aggressive pace of remodeling activity.

The mass merchant did over $500 million in both consumer electronics and major appliance business in 1999, according to TWICE Retail Registry statistics.

Wards expects to have 76 remodels completed by the holiday shopping season, said Chuck Knittle, VP of government affairs and corporate communications. About GE Capital's investment, Knittle said, "This certainly is a vote of confidence in our remodeling program."

Wards completed three remodels in 1998, 40 in 1999, and expects to complete 33 more within 2000.

"We're seeing increased performances of 20 percent over the prior year in these remodels," said Knittle.

The retailer has already completed its total remodel commitment in several markets, including Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; San Francisco; San Antonio, Texas; Sacramento, Calif.; Oklahoma City; and Chicago.

Wards currently operates 250 stores in 31 states and is continuing a program of developing three prototype stores for the chain.

As for consumer electronics and majap sales, Knittle said it is doing "very well" in these categories.

The retailer also said that, due to major tornado damage to a distribution center in Fort Worth, Texas, it is abandoning the site and moving 80 miles down the road to a new distribution complex in Corsicana, Texas.

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