MIAMI -- The Mervyn's department store chain said Monday it plans to open 12 stores in Florida in 1991, including five that will replace existing Lord & Taylor stores to be bought from May Department Stores Co. of St. Louis.
The Hayward, Calif.-based Mervyn's, a subsidiary of Dayton Hudson Corp. of Minneapolis specializing in moderately priced fashions and home goods, said it expects to hire about 2,000 people as part of the expansion.
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Mervyn's said it agreed to buy Lord & Taylor stores in Dade County, Coral Springs, Boynton Beach and Jensen Beach. The company said it expects to close the stores in January and re-open them as Mervyn's stores in July.
Mervyn's bought and converted two Lord & Taylor stores in Houston in 1989.
Lord & Taylor operates six other stores in south Florida -- two each in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Those stores are not for sale, spokeswoman Jann Walker said.
'We just had too many stores in too small a location,' she said. Walker declined to say whether the five stores to be sold are profitable.
The five stores employ 440 people, she said. But a spokeswoman for Mervyn's said the company is under no obligation to rehire the Lord & Taylor employees when the stores reopen.
Mervyn's spokeswoman Sandra Salyer said the company plans to open seven other stores next year in Florida. To accomplish that, Mervyn's plans to build some stores and buy others, she said.
Salyer declined to say whether the company plans to buy other Lord & Taylor stores in Florida. Locations will be announced later, she said.
Mervyn's operates 227 stores in 15 states, but only one store in Florida, in Lakeland. The company sells casual apparel and home fashions at prices that are generally lower than other department stores, Salyer said.
'We have been looking at real estate in Florida for a number of years, and have just had difficulty in coming up with the right real estate locations,' she said. 'We've wanted to be in Florida for a long time.'
The company also operates stores in Georgia and Louisiana.
Salyer said the expansion makes sense for Mervyn's despite the current economic downturn and falling consumer confidence because of the company's niche as a discount retailer, and because of the size of the expansion.
'It is clearly going to be much more cost efficient and we are going to be much better able to serve our customers both from a distribution and advertising standpoint with a greater number of stores,' she said.
Also Monday, Lord & Taylor's announced plans to reduce the size of its store at the Galleria in Fort Lauderdale.
Other stores to be retained by Lord & Taylor's are located at the Aventura and Dadeland malls in Dade County, the Palm Beach Mall in West Palm Beach, Boca Town Center in Boca Raton, and the Fashion Mall in Plantation.
Stores to be sold are located at the Cutler Ridge and International malls in Dade County, Boynton Beach Mall, Coral Springs Shopping Center, and Treasure Coast Square in Jensen Beach.