- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 25, 2003

It’s black and white for a Baltimore retailer. White House Inc., a women’s apparel chain that sells only black and white clothing, has filed for an initial public offering of stock to raise as much as $50 million.

The Glen Burnie, Md., company, which registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday, says it will use the proceeds to open new stores and move its headquarters and distribution center to a larger facility in Maryland. The number of shares and the price per share were not disclosed in the SEC filing.

Company officials could not be reached for comment.

White House was founded in Baltimore in 1985 as a boutique carrying only white clothing for women. Ten years later, the company opened a new concept called Black Market, offering women’s apparel in black. In 1997, the company combined the concepts under one roof, resulting in the White House | Black Market stores, which carryexclusively black and white clothes.

At the end of April, the company had 96 stores, including two in the District, five in Maryland and one in Virginia. The company plans to have 111 stores by the end of fiscal 2003. White House says “the potential exists for at least 400 White House | Black Market stores nationwide,” SEC documents say.

The stores average about 1,460 square feet, but the company plans to increase the size of new stores to between 1,750 square feet and 1,800 square feet.

The company added more than 30 stores over the past three years. Sales at stores open at least a year have increased nearly 12 percent per year over the past three years. Total sales last year reached $67 million and the company had a $3.9 million profit.

White House plans to list the shares on Nasdaq under the symbol WHBK.

Circuit City gets face-lift

Circuit City in Bailey’s Crossroads reopened last week with a new look. The 36,500-square-foot store has more selling space, more merchandise on display, wider aisles and better lighting.

During the remodeling, the store was closed for about four months and a temporary store was set up nearby.

It is one of two Circuit City stores in the Washington area getting a face-lift. The consumer-electronics company, based in Richmond, also has demolished the Waldorf store. A temporary location has been set up until the improved store reopens this summer.

Circuit City will do partial remodeling for five other stores with new signs and fixtures. Those stores are in Rockville and Manassas, Springfield, Fairfax and Sterling, Va., and will be complete by the end of the summer.

In other news

• Red Lobster has completed a $4.9 million renovation of its 15 Washington-area restaurants. The casual-dining seafood chain has added a “coastal home” design that includes fish-shaped tables at the bar, new decor with seaside sculptures and brightly painted fish at the entrance.

• Tysons Corner Center is undergoing a $100 million expansion that will include a new 18-screen AMC Theatre, restaurants, food court and more stores. The project will include the redevelopment of the former J.C. Penney site and an expansion — adding about 350,000 square feet to the 2.1-million-square-foot McLean shopping center. The project is expected to be completed in August 2005.

• The DC Chamber of Commerce has set up a Visitor Information Desk at the new City Museum in the Carnegie Library building at Mount Vernon Square in Northwest. The satellite visitor center, on the first floor, will assist museum visitors with general tourist questions.

Got news? Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884.

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