Lewis & Thomas Saltz has closed its flagship store at 14th and G streets NW, leaving the 49-year-old clothier with only one store, at 1009 Connecticut Ave. NW.

Lewis & Thomas Saltz President Robert Schaich said the company decided to close its original store because the construction in the area "cost us a lot of customer loss. That was the reason for terminating the lease."

However, Schaich said, Saltz is interested in reopening a store in the area once renovation there is completed.

Schaich said the company also is looking for additional locations in the metropolitan area. "We're still shopping for additional space, especially in Chevy Chase," he said. "Our plans are to open another store; we just haven't found the additional space at the right price yet." Schaich denied rumors now circulating in the retailing industry that the company was going to close its Connecticut Avenue store and sell its remaining lease. An offer to buy the remainder of the lease "was declined," he said.

Schaich and Spencer Hays, a Nashville businessman, acquired the Saltz stores 15 months ago from Washington real estate developers Theodore Lerner and Albert Abramson, who had bought the clothing chain six years ago. Lerner and Abramson expanded the chain to five stores and tried to change its traditional line of merchandise to make it more fashionable. But Lerner and Abramson sold off two of the stores to Brooks Brothers, and Shaich and Hays decided not to renew their lease on the White Flint Mall store.

Retailing executives say that since the sale to Lerner and Abramson, the Saltz chain has been struggling to find its identity and has been hurt by the effort to upgrade its image. "By updating their fashions, they alienated the loyal clientele that it had, and now they are finding it hard to go back" to their traditional line, one retailing executive said.