Women's fashion chain Chico's FAS Inc on Thursday announced it has agreed to acquire women's apparel retailer The White House Inc for $90 million.

The Florida-based operator of 413 stores will pay $85.6m in cash plus $4.4m in its own stock for the retailer which owns and operates 103 women's specialty stores under the White House and Black Market names.

The transaction has been approved by the boards of both companies, and should close in the third quarter, Chico's said in a statement. White House had been planning to pursue a public offering.

Chico's expects the acquisition to add sales of between $32m and $36m for the remainder of fiscal 2003 and the planned opening of eight new White House|Black Market stores during 2003.

It also expects the deal to contribute between $100m and $110m of revenues based on the opening of between 25 and 30 new White House|Black Market stores next year.

Chico's president and COO, Scott Edmonds, commented: "We are very pleased to bring these two companies together. Over the past few years, we have been impressed with the development of the White House|Black Market concept.

"It is clear to us The White House has a proven store model and we are convinced that there should be a tremendous fit with our organisation from a strategic, financial, cultural, and operational viewpoint."

White House chairman, president and CEO, Richard Sarmiento, said: "Although we had recently been pursuing our own public offering, we are extremely excited to open new avenues for the White House|Black Market concept by becoming a part of the Chico's organisation.

"Chico's has built a world-class operational platform that The White House should be able to leverage to effectively execute our growth plan. We look forward to this new affiliation and to being able to take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead of us."