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    Crown Books Corp.
    list rank

    From the April 28, 1997 Washington Post


    '96 (in $ 000s) % Change From '95
    Revenue 286,411 (7.0)
    Net Income 3,704 --
    Rank Last Year: 39

    Description:
    Crown Books is a discount bookstore chain with 168 stores across the country, including 40 in the Washington area. The company is 51 percent owned by Dart Group Corp., the retail holding company founded by the Haft family.

    Business Resume:
    • Contact Info --
      3300 75th Ave.
      Landover, Md. 20785
      301-731-1200
    • Main Business --
      Retailing-books
    • Founded --
      1983
    • Chairperson --
      Herbert H. Haft
    • President --
      Steve Stevens (CEO)
    • Employees --
      3,300
    • D.C.-Area Employees --
      1,000
    Developments:
    Crown's profits have been declining for several years because of increasing competition from the growing Borders Books & Music and Barnes & Noble chains, but at least the dispute between its parent company and the Haft family seems to be almost over. That battle has distracted the management of Dart and its subsidiaries for years, though they recently have stepped up efforts to turn around Dart's struggling chains, including Crown.

    Some analysts say it may be too late for Dart to save Crown, and they doubt if the chain could be sold easily. Dart may begin selling off its assets once its agreements to remove the Hafts have been finalized, but analysts say the biggest chains in the bookstore business are not growing by acquisition, so it is unclear who would be interested in buying beleaguered Crown Books.

    However, Crown is about halfway through a restructuring process that company executives said has converted almost all of its outlets to large-format stores, which analysts say are more profitable than the smaller, older stores.

    A few years ago Crown was opening Super Crown stores, which have 6,000 to 8,000 square feet of space, to replace its original Crown Books stores, which are 3,000 square feet. But now the company is rolling out yet a bigger format, Super Crown Warehouse, which has about 15,000 square feet. That, company executives say, has improved the chain's results. The replacement of smaller stores with larger stores has pushed Crown's total square footage up dramatically, even though its store count has declined.

    The company also has been working on its customer service, adding electronic information kiosks so shoppers can get information about books, and reorganizing its shelves to be more browser-friendly, company executives said.

    Copyright 1997 The Washington Post

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