Area Pamida stores moving to Shopko

Four Pamida stores in East Central Illinois are slated to become Shopko Hometown stores this year, as the result of a merger announced Wednesday by Shopko Stores and Pamida.

Pamida, based in Omaha, Neb., operates 193 stores in 17 states, including 10 stores in Illinois. Among those are stores in Tuscola, Monticello, Hoopeston and Sullivan.

Shopko Stores, based in Green Bay, Wis., operates 149 stores in 13 states. Even though Shopko has fewer stores than Pamida, Shopko has annual revenues of $2 billion, nearly double those of Pamida.

The combined company, to be headquartered in Green Bay, will use the Shopko name and be led by Shopko CEO W. Paul Jones.

Both companies — which operate primarily in smaller, rural communities — are owned by affiliates of Sun Capital Partners, a private investment firm. The deal is expected to close in mid-February, according to a news release from the companies.

Shopko spokeswoman Tara Powers said the conversions will start this summer and continue through the end of the year. Each community will be told when its store will be converted, and a liquidation of Pamida merchandise will be held.

Each conversion will take about five weeks and be done on a department-by-department basis. The stores and their associated pharmacies will remain open during that time, she said.

Powers said the "vast majority" of Pamida stores will be retained, and only a few Pamida stores that overlap areas with Shopko stores will be considered for closing.

Over the past two years, Shopko has bought seven stores in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin from Pamida and turned them into Shopko Hometown stores.

Shopko Hometown stores offer pharmacy services along with national brands and private-label brands of clothing, toys, consumer electronics, seasonal items and lawn-and-garden products.

Powers said Shopko Hometown has a larger assortment of merchandise — particularly in apparel and home merchandise — than Pamida, and tends to put more emphasis on national brands.

Shopko said once the Pamida conversions are complete, the company intends to accelerate the addition of Shopko Hometown stores in the second half of this year and in 2013.

Powers said Shopko Hometown stores also require more staffing than Pamida stores do. She said people interested in the additional jobs should check the "careers" section of the Shopko website — http://www.shopko.com/careers.

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