- The Washington Times - Monday, October 29, 2001

Snow Valley Mountain Spring Water is thirsty for more business.

The Upper Marlboro bottled water distributor has added a new core management team, opened a new distribution facility in Northern Virginia and is in the process of upgrading its customer service technology.

With these added improvements, the nearly 80-person company expects to increase sales by about 40 percent over the next two years.

"Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of drinking water to maintain good health and peak personal performance," says John LaPides, Snow Valley president. "Combined with bottled water's strong basic fundamentals quality, convenience and affordability we don't foresee a slowdown in the growth of our industry or our brand."

Snow Valley, which has a 27,000-square-foot distribution facility in Upper Marlboro, serves 17,000 homes and businesses in the Baltimore-Washington region. Snow Valley expects to increase its presence in retail locations, which is currently a small segment of its business.

The company is also turning its attention to Northern Virginia, where 10 to 15 percent of Snow Valley's business comes from.

"We're seeing a lot of growth in the Northern Virginia area," Mr. LaPides says. "If we focus on that area, it will grow even faster."

The new 10,000-square-foot distribution facility, which will employ about 10 persons, will serve those customers.

Mr. LaPides would not disclose company sales but says Snow Valley produces well over 5 million gallons of water a year.

Not so lazy

La-Z-Boy Furniture Gallery isn't sitting still.

The company, best known for its signature recliners, is opening two new stores in the Washington area bringing its total to eight locations, says Kurt Darrow, president of the Monroe, Mich.-based furniture manufacturer and retailer.

La-Z-Boy has plans to replace an existing outdated Fairfax store with a new location scheduled to open in December, as well as open a new store in Waldorf, Md., in March. In September, the company opened a store in Springfield and has locations in Rockville, Laurel, Annapolis in Maryland, and in Sterling and Woodbridge in Northern Virginia.

Mr. Darrow says the company is trying to "elevate the style of our furniture" with new, updated stores, which are typically about 15,000 to 16,000 square feet.

The Washington market has room for one or two more stores but the company will evaluate the current locations before deciding where else to locate, Mr. Darrow says.

Moving in

IKEA's yellow and blue colors are covering the Washington area.

The Swedish home furnishings chain, which has just 15 locations in the United States, is opening a new location in Prince George's County and relocating and expanding its Woodbridge, Va., store.

IKEA has bought more than 45 acres of land in College Park to house a 350,000-square-foot store, as well as four to six free-standing restaurants and as much as 419,000 square feet of office space, says Brad Prevost, real estate specialist at IKEA Property Inc. The 15-month construction process for the store is scheduled to begin in April, with an opening date expected in the summer of 2003.

A 300,000-square-foot store, located at Potomac Mills Circle in Woodbridge, is opening Nov. 28. It's replacing an older IKEA store about half the size, which was attached to Potomac Mills.

IKEA stores typically employ about between 400 and 500 people.

IKEA currently has 163 stores in 30 countries. The other closest location to Washington is in White Marsh, Md., a Baltimore suburb.

Opening for business

• Shoppers Food Warehouse is moving into a former Hechinger site at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Randolph Road in Wheaton. The supermarket chain, a division of Supervalu, will expand the existing 55,000-square-foot space to about 60,000 square feet. The new store is scheduled to open next summer.

• Lord & Taylor will open its fifth company store in Virginia on Nov. 1 at Landmark Mall in Alexandria. The 120,000-square-foot department store will occupy the first two levels of the former JC Penney building.

• Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Retail & Hospitality runs every other week.

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