Originally created 08/31/99

Discount Auto Parts to expand in Augusta



Discount Auto Parts, one of the Southeast's biggest auto parts chains, will increase its presence in the Augusta market with four new stores this fall.

The Lakeland, Fla.,-based chain is building 6,800-square-foot stores at 3504 Wrightsboro Road, 3036 Deans Bridge Road, 3740 Washington Road and 1060 Edgefield Road in North Augusta.

The Wrightsboro Road location will open in late September, said Kristi Mullis, the company's public relations director. The other locations will open in mid-October, she said.

All locations will be stand-alone stores except for the Deans Bridge Road store, which will occupy a refurbished portion of a strip mall.

Discount already has two area stores, one in North Augusta on Jeff Davis Highway and one in south Richmond County on Peach Orchard Road. Both were built within the last three years.

"Our philosophy is to cluster our stores," Ms. Mullis said. "Augusta is not a new market for us, but it's time to fill it in."

Each new store will staff between eight to 10 people, she said. The company's strategy is to hire store personnel from the surrounding neighborhoods.

Ms. Mullis said the 577-store chain believes Augusta could support two additional locations, which the company may develop at a later date.

Discount operates 415 stores in Florida with the remainder spread across Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina.

The company was started in 1971 in Winter Haven, Fla. by the Fontaine family, which holds about 45 percent of the company's publicly traded stock. Discount reported $511 million in sales for its fiscal year ending May 1999.

Discount Auto Parts caters to the "do-it-yourself" mechanic, like top competitors Pep Boys and AutoZone. It sells brand-name products as well as private-label merchandise under the Discount Auto Parts and Power Pak names.

Damon Cline covers business for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3486.



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