DFS will shortly announce plans to spend $20 million to $25 million to completely renovate its Tumon Bay Galleria flagship store at Pleasure Island.

The company intends to completely renovate its interior upgrading its boutiques adding new boutiques redoing the presentation of the general merchandising area adding new brands and a champagne espresso bar.

“It will be the company’s biggest capital investment in all its worldwide operations next year ” said Joe F. Camacho DFS U.S. group vice president of finance.

“We’re basically doing it because we have a very strong positive outlook on Guam’s future ” he told the Journal. “This reaffirms our partnership with Guam. We’re excited about it because it will create new employment opportunities. We are in the process of hiring and training people to staff the airport and Galleria locations.”

The project is in the planning and design phase Camacho said with construction bids expected to be out by the end of the year. Construction is scheduled to start in February next year and to be completed in February 2006.

At the same time the company is evaluating the feasibility of renovating the Tumon building’s exterior as well.

This project follows a $5 million renovation of the DFS store at the Guam International Airport – due to be completed in December. With the new renovations the company is planning to hire as many as 40 additional people to staff the two locations. DFS Guam employs approximately 650 personnel. The Galleria complex opened in 1994 and was extended in 1997 to its present 120 000-square-feet.

DFS will be adding new fashion brands although Camacho said he couldn’t give details because the agreements are being negotiated.

“Retailing is an ever-evolving business and we have to update our look and presentations to stay current with our customers’ preferences ” Camacho said. “In the new store you’ll see an increased emphasis on luxury and fashion brands and world-class displays of merchandise. Put this new store together with our new stores at the Guam International Airport and we add a great deal to the shopping attraction of this island.”

The construction will be done in phases so that customers won’t be inconvenienced and there will be minimal disruption to traffic Camacho said.

“It’ll be a major transformation of the store so even customers who’ve visited it in the past will have a new and fresh shopping experience in the store ” Camacho said. “It also encourages repeat visits to the island. It’ll be a must-see attraction for visitors and locals alike.”

Camacho said Gov. Felix P. Camacho met with Ed Brennan chairman of the DFS Group and one of the DFS owners to encourage and welcome the investment on Guam.

“We’re taking a great store and making it the greatest store not only for Guam but throughout DFS ” said Steve Timms managing director for DFS in Guam Saipan and Palau. “Our employees and the people of Guam will be at the very forefront of retail developments for the international traveling public.”

DFS has confidence in the Guam economy Joe Camacho said because of a number of indicators: construction is increasing — especially military construction; hotels such as the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa the Westin Resort Guam LeoPalace Resort and the Guam Marriott Resort are reinvesting; and arrival numbers from Japan are again high.

“There’s a lot of positive spirit and momentum in the community and we’re quite excited about that ” he said. “There’s significant growth in arrival numbers out of Japan which the Guam Visitors Bureau has worked very hard to restore over the past couple of years.”

Joe Camacho said DFS is positioning itself especially for the China market —where he won the airport concession in Hunan Island and has relocated its headquarters to Hong Kong. He said while Japan is Guam’s core market China presents a long-term option.

DFS will also open a Galleria in Okinawa in December. MBJ