Posted on DallasNews.com | February 5, 2016
By Maria Halkias

 

View Original Article Here
Photo: Andy Jacobsohn/Staff Photographer

 

At_Home_store

A former Wal-Mart on LBJ Freeway in Farmers Branch and a Kohl’s that’s closing in Plano will become the newest locations of Plano-based home decor retailer At Home.

 

Although At Home put a hold on its IPO plans announced last fall, it’s moving ahead with growth, including a more than $15 million expansion of its Plano distribution center. The enlarged warehouse will allow the retailer to double its stores, now numbering 100, said CEO Lee Bird.

 

Kohl’s is closing its store on North Central Expressway at Parker Road in Plano on Feb. 13, and At Home plans to open in the space in May after an extensive remodeling. That store will replace one of At Home’s oldest stores, in Plano in the Antique Mall at Spring Creek Parkway and North Central Expressway.

 

Last year, Wal-Mart closed its store on the northwest corner of LBJ and Midway Road and moved into a new one across the freeway.

 

It was one of Wal-Mart’s oldest stores in the Dallas area, and At Home is gutting it. The city of Farmers Branch is allowing At Home to put up a new store facade and sign that are tall enough to be seen by vehicles on LBJ Freeway.

 

The 140,000-square-foot LBJ store, to open in June, is closer to the North Dallas shoppers the company wants to attract, Bird said.

 

By moving the Plano store farther south, possibilities open up for other new stores north of Plano, he said. “We think we can have at least 12 stores in Dallas-Fort Worth.”

 

At Home prefers to recycle other retailers’ vacated stores but will build from the ground up, as it did last year when it opened its seventh local store in Fort Worth’s Alliance area.

 

That store and the two new stores together cost $17 million.

 

At Home has expanded to 27 states and plans to open 20 stores this year. Four stores open this week, in Snellville, Ga.; Prescott, Ariz.; Burnsville, Minn.; and Bountiful, Utah.

 

In its initial public offering filing, the company said it believes it can grow to 600 stores. Funds from the IPO would go to pay down debt, Bird said.

 

“We didn’t need the cash to grow,” he said, adding that self-funding projects.

 

But market volatility has delayed several IPOs in recent months, including that of At Home, which had sales last year of $592 million.

 

The company, formerly known as Garden Ridge, moved to Plano from Houston in 2014.

 

Under its new name, it updated its merchandise and traded its big orange store exteriors for gray and blue. It has added more than 100 people for a total home office staff of 220 since moving to Plano.