IRVINE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 5, 2000--As part of a major effort to effect a corporate turnaround and reposition itself in the marketplace, HomeBase Inc. announced that its board of directors approved a plan to initiate a broad expansion of the company's new House2Home retail concept, reflecting a change in corporate focus toward the home decorating retail market.

As part of its repositioning, the company will exit the home improvement sector, converting an additional 62 of its HomeBase stores to the House2Home format and closing the remaining 22 stores.

On Sept. 9 of this year, the company opened five House2Home test stores in different markets throughout Southern California and in Las Vegas. All five stores are converted HomeBase stores.

``This is a tremendously exciting day for our company as we commit to change our course for the future and embark upon a new beginning,'' said Herbert Zarkin, chairman, president and chief executive officer. ``HomeBase has made a valiant effort to sustain its position in the fiercely competitive home improvement market. However, despite our best efforts, we do not foresee the pressures on the HomeBase business subsiding in the near term. Rather, they are likely to intensify as time goes on.

``After careful deliberation and evaluation of the test store results, as well as consideration of a variety of alternatives, the board of directors is convinced that our new House2Home concept presents a clear and compelling opportunity for an effective and fast turnaround,'' Zarkin continued. ``While we regretfully move away from the HomeBase brand, we embrace the positive changes that are about to come, and look forward to pursuing a more promising avenue of growth that offers the possibility of substantially higher returns and greater stockholder value over the long term.''

Under the chain-wide conversion program, the House2Home expansion is planned to roll out in a staggered, eight-phase schedule over a 12-month period, involving the conversion of 62 additional stores and the closure of 22 stores. The first two phases of the rollout were launched simultaneously today and involve a total of 31 stores, largely in the greater Los Angeles area. Eighteen of the stores in these first two phases will be converted into House2Home stores, while 13 in this group will be closed under one of several scenarios.