National discount retailer ShopKo Stores Inc. has apparently accomplished what it wanted - and possibly more - in less than a year in Utah and is aggressively pursuing Phase 2 of its local expansion program.
Before the end of 1989, the retail chain based in Green Bay, Wis., will open new stores in West Valley City, at 35th South and 45th West, and in Logan, and it recently announced plans for a 10th Utah store - a 67,000 square foot outlet in Brigham City."ShopKo is actively pursuing additional locations to continue the second phase of Utah development," the written announcement said.
Characteristically silent about details surrounding future plans or past performance, ShopKo declined to say how many more stores will complete the second phase. But spokeswoman Jane Kresin confirmed recent reports of the discount department store possibly anchoring a $31 million shopping center in Sugar House.
The project, to be developed by Clark Financial Corp., would be between Wilmington Avenue and I-80.
"We are looking at all possibilities and that (the Sugar House site) is one of those possibilities," Kresin said.
Another site is reportedly in South Salt Lake, where ShopKo may locate if city officials do not provide a discount on the Sugar House land sought by Clark Financial.
Declining to disclose sales figures or give any specifics on ShopKo's initial performance in Utah, Kresin said, "Things are going excellent. We are overjoyed with the employees we have in Utah, and the consumers seem to like us."
In addition to discount prices, ShopKo will employ more about 2,350 Utahns after the Brigham City store is completed in the summer of 1990.
Competing retailers most likely don't share the same enthusiasm consumers do about ShopKo's entry in Utah. Many of the area's department stores, toy stores and competing discount retailers blamed ShopKo's discounting for the small margins gained during the past Christmas shopping season, while the volume of merchandise sold increased.
In its 1988 annual report, ShopKo President William J. Tyrell cites the company's decentralized management philosophy as playing a critical role in the store's success.
"Store managers have the authority to customize merchandise assortments and promotions to best meeting the localized needs and desires of their communities," he said.
ShopKo, a wholly owned subsidiary of Super Valu Stores Inc., operates 75 discount department stores primarily along the northern tier from Michigan to Washington, with stores also in Nevada and California.
Expansion is occurring throughout the company's market area with 11 stores opening this year in California, Idaho, Wisconsin, Washington and Oregon, including the two new stores in Utah.
Super Valu, which also operates 18 wholesale food divisions and 96 retail food stores, reported total sales of $9.4 billion in 1988 and net earnings of $112 million, or $1.50 per share, compared to $89 million, or $1.20 per share, the year before.