Men’s apparel chain Jos A Bank Clothiers Inc on Wednesday raised its third quarter earnings guidance 20 per cent and will "significantly accelerate" its new store opening schedule in fiscal 2003 and beyond.

The operator of around 150 stores said in a news release it sees quarterly earnings per share of 25 cents, up from last year’s 21 cents, and sees full-year earnings of $1.40 per share - an increase of 33 per cent over the year-ago earnings of $1.05.

It also announced an acceleration of its store expansion program that includes opening up to 350 stores over the next five years. The firm plans to open 25 stores in fiscal 2002, 50 stores in 2003, 75 stores in 2004 and up to 100 stores each year thereafter.

"Three years ago we announced a plan to grow our chain of men’s wear retail stores and increase our profits - and we have done this", commented Jos A Bank chief executive officer Robert Wildrick.

"Now we are ready to take our brand to the `next level' as we are very encouraged by the success we are having with our stores, along with our catalogue and internet businesses.

”We believe the company is uniquely positioned to become America's premier men’s wear retailer and our strong balance sheet and operating cash flows will allow us to take advantage of attractive opportunities currently in the real estate marketplace."