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Havertys plans to remodel 40 stores this year

Also will take over Carls store in Boca Raton, Fla.

ATLANTA - Havertys plans to remodel 40 store interiors this year, along with opening its first store in Boca Raton, Fla., the company's president and CEO said Tuesday.

In a conference call with investment analysts discussing the retailer's fourth-quarter earnings, Clarence Smith said the Atlanta-based retailer made "judicious decisions" on stores last year and will continue making moves this year.

Havertys closed four weakening stores in 2010 and moved some to better locations, taking advantage of real estate opportunities brought about by the difficult retail environment. It entered Columbus, Ga., in the fourth quarter by renovating a former Circuit City store.

This year, it will strengthen its position in southeast Florida by entering Boca Raton with a 48,000-square-foot showroom that Carls Furniture is vacating. Havertys expects to take possession of the Carls store early this summer and open by Labor Day.

"Havertys is a great brand and we have a solid position in our markets," he said. "We expect that as general economic conditions continue to recover and housing stabilizes, the demand for furniture will also improve."

In the conference call, Smith noted that the retailer will upgrade the interiors of about 40 stores this year - focusing on major markets-under a remodeling program it calls Bright Inspirations. The work includes lighting, painting, new signage and some layout changes.

He said the changes will bring the stores up to Havertys' standards, with a consistent feel and a presentation that is "at least as good as our website."

The 118-store company remodeled 13 stores last years and expects to complete the program for all stores by the end of 2012.

Havertys posted a nearly 40% decline in fourth-quarter income but finished 2010 with a profit, compared with a loss in 2009 and despite inflating product costs.

Earnings of $5.5 million or 25 cents per share in the fourth quarter were down from $9.2 million or 42 cents per share in the same period a year earlier. Excluding a $1.6 million tax benefit in the fourth quarter of 2009, net income decreased 25.7% in the 2010 fourth quarter period.

Net sales for the quarter were relatively flat at $162.1 million, while same-store sales increased 1.9%, the fifth consecutive quarterly increase in same-store sales.

For the year, the 118-store retailer reported net income of $8.4 million or 38 cents per share, a turnaround from a loss of $4.2 million or 20 cents per share in 2009. Sales increased 5.5% to $620.3 million and same-store sales jumped 7%.

The midpriced to lower-high-end Havertys operates stores in 17 Southern and Midwestern states.

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