Pay-Less Northgate will cease operations on May 4.

Michael R. Benito general manager of Payless Supermarkets Inc.; told the Journal that as part of its ongoing improvements the chain had decided to concentrate on those stores that performed best. "It costs a lot of money to operate a Pay-Less. We want to put emphasis on the other stores.

"Northgate is a commuter store for a lot of people and transactions are very small there."

Even if Payless significantly upgraded the Northgate Pay-Less as it was doing with a number of its stores Benito said it was doubtful if the store would show commensurate returns.

All of the personnel at Northgate will be retained he said. "We have 32 employees there and every single employee will be transferred to another store. No employee is losing their job because of this."

Staff at the Tamuning store on Marine Corps Drive will begin informing customers on April 21.

Benito said on that date "We will start passing out leaflets for our Northgate promotional activities that will ease the pain."

He recognized that Northgate customers would need to change shopping patterns. "There are very few places on Guam where there isn’t a Pay-Less nearby. Hopefully the convenience of our other stores will ease the burden some. We feel very confident that we’ll keep the majority of those customers who spend the majority of their grocery dollars in that store."

In line with ongoing improvement plans renovations were scheduled for the Agana Shopping Center and Sinajana Pay-Less stores Benito said.

"We’ve got all the specifications and plans done. It all happens in summer; Agana first – that store’s going to be beautiful when we’re done "" and then Sinajana right after "" those are the projects we want to do."

The Dededo Pay-Less was renovated in July and August 2005 at a cost of about $2 million.

Since its $350 000-renovation in June 2005 Benito said the Oka Pay-Less had performed well. "Oka since the renovation has shown double-digit growth. Obviously customers are reacting positively to our renovations.

But traditionally high-revenue stores continued to lead he said with the highest revenue coming from "Agana by far and then Dededo and of course Yigo. The [Micronesia] Mall is coming around."

Payless intended to open a supermarket at the southern end of the island Benito said. "We are looking down south. These are some really exciting times for Payless."

Payless would retain the Northgate building he said. "We’re going to sub-lease it. We have a few [prospective] tenants we’re talking to already." The company had not retained a Realtor Benito said. "We’ve not signed an agreement but we do have somebody in mind."

The 9 000 square-foot Northgate Pay-Less opened as Northgate J&G Pay-Less Supermarket in 1968. Calvo Enterprises Inc. purchased the store and four other locations on Dec. 1 1985. MBJ