ATLANTA -- Furniture manufacturer and home merchandise leasing firm Aaron's, Inc. says revenues rose 8 percent  first quarter of 2011, to $532.7 million. Net earnings increased 20% to $44.4 million.

"The numbers speak for themselves and it was an excellent quarter in all aspects of our business," said Robert C. Loudermilk, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of Aaron's. "Over many years, regardless of the economic conditions, we have delivered excellent results for our shareholders, mainly due to the superior execution of our unique business model. Our customer base remains large, the demand for the basic household furnishings we offer continues, and we believe the potential for further growth still is excellent."

Aaron's, which operates and franchises retail outlets for furniture produced at a dozen of its own factories,  said it had 914,000 customers and its franchisees had 499,000 customers at the end of the quarter, a 9% increase.

Last quarter Aaron's said it planned on hiring 1,000 people,  and that it had set its sites on $3 billion in annual sales.
Now it projects $2 billion in annual sales; last year it reach $1.877 billion.

Aaron's said its Office Furniture division, of which there is one remaining store liquidating merchandise, decreased 64% to $1.4 million in the first quarter of 2011 compared to $3.9 million in the first quarter of 2010. 

Aaron's projects new store growth of  5 to 9 percent over the store base at the end of 2010. "We expect that this will be a net store growth after any opportunistic merging or disposition of stores; the Company will continue, as warranted, to consolidate or sell stores not meeting performance goals. Aaron's says it also plans to continue to acquire franchised stores, convert independent operator's stores to Aaron's franchised stores, or sell company-operated stores to franchisees.

Aaron's, Inc., based in Atlanta, currently has more than 1,829 Company-operated and franchised stores in 48 states and Canada. The Company's Woodhaven Furniture Industries division manufactured approximately $79 million, at cost, of furniture and bedding at 12 facilities in seven states in 2010. The entire production of Woodhaven is for shipment to Aaron's stores.

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