The Elder-Beerman Stores Corp (Nasdaq:EBSC) today announced the October 4, 2000 grand openings of its two newest department stores in West Bend, Wisconsin and Howell Michigan. The 62,000 sq ft West Bend store and the 74,000 sq ft Howell store are the third and fourth of Elder-Beerman's new concept stores. Growth of the concept store format in smaller, under-served markets is a key element of the company's new three-part strategic plan announced in August.The first two concept stores in Warsaw, Indiana, and Frankfort, Kentucky had successful openings last fall and have been very well received by customers. The new stores will carry a mix of brand name fashion merchandise for men, women, juniors, young men and children; a full assortment of home furnishings; and cosmetics and fragrances, including Estee Lauder, Clinique, Lancôme and Elizabeth Arden. Elder-Beerman has designed the store to enhance the customer shopping experience through a more convenient store layout and high-capacity fixturing that will attractively display more merchandise in less space. "The growth of our concept stores is very important to our three-part strategic plan, along with a shift in our merchandising strategy and the streamlining of our organisational structure," stated Frederick J. Mershad, Elder-Beerman's chairman and chief executive officer. "The West Bend and Howell stores fit perfectly into our new store strategy in terms of location and demographics. We look forward to serving new customers in these communities." The nation's ninth largest independent department store chain, The Elder-Beerman Stores Corp is based in Dayton, Ohio and now operates 62 department stores in Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Elder-Beerman also operates two furniture superstores. The company has announced a new concept store in Jasper, Indiana scheduled to open in November 2000.