Footstar Inc expects an operating margin of approximately 7 per cent next year, assuming flat to low single digit store sales growth. The company also anticipates ending fiscal year 2001 with $140 to $150 million outstanding under its revolving credit facility, and to end fiscal year 2002 with less than $100 million outstanding.

Speaking at a meeting of analysts and investors in New York, Mickey Robinson, the company's chairman and chief executive officer, said the footwear retailer plans to increase its athletic segment's off-mall presence to approximately 57 per cent of sales by 2006.

In addition, it expects to complete the expansion of its distribution centre in Mira Loma, California, and implement systems enhancements to improve markdown management and convert all merchandising systems to a common platform.

At the company's Just For Feet division, Jeffrey Gordon, president and chief executive officer, said 10 to 15 new stores would be opened in 2002. Key store-based initiatives include remodelling the existing store base to expand the full priced shoe deck, the value zone and the casual shoe area, and also add Brand Jordan shops and improve sight lines throughout the store.

Growth plans for Footaction, outlined by Shawn Neville, Footaction's president and chief executive officer, involve building the brand through focused marketing strategies and increasing and enhancing the amount of exclusive product offered in Footaction stores. The company will also expand the chain's off-mall presence by opening 10 to 20 new stores next year.

In November, Footstar's same-store sales fell 9.6 per cent, due to a combination of warm weather and an uncertain retail environment. For the 47-weeks ended November 24, same-store sales were down 1.7 per cent.