IRVINE, Calif. -- As part of its shift in corporate focus to transition out of the home improvement sector and into the home decorating market, HomeBase Inc. has begun phase three of its chain-wide store conversion program, continuing its broad expansion of the company's new House2Home retail concept.

Phase three of the company's conversion program involves liquidating roughly $50 million of inventory, at retail, at eight HomeBase stores in the San Diego and Fresno, Calif., markets, including Chula Vista, San Marcos, Vista, Kearney Mesa, College Grove, Fresno, Visalia and Clovis. All the stores will close briefly and reopen on Jan. 19 to begin liquidation sales for approximately 11 weeks. Following the liquidation process, the San Marcos store will close permanently while the seven other HomeBase stores will temporarily close for construction and re-merchandising and reopen as House2Home stores in early June.

On Dec. 5, HomeBase announced its decision to reposition the company by exiting the home improvement sector and converting approximately 62 additional HomeBase stores to the House2Home format. The company's decision was based, in large part, on the successful results of its five existing House2Home test stores, opened in September of last year -- all of which were former HomeBase stores.

"We have been very encouraged by the initial results of our five-store pilot program, in terms of sales, positive customer feedback and promising market research," said Herb Zarkin, chairman, president and CEO. "We feel confident that if we are able to meet our near-term financial goals, we can effect a meaningful turnaround and achieve substantially higher returns for this company and our stockholders in a relatively short period of time."

Phase three is part of an eight-phase chain-wide conversion program that involves converting approximately 62 stores and closing 22 stores over a 12-month period. The first two phases of the rollout were launched simultaneously on Dec. 5, and involved closing or converting a total of 31 stores, largely in the greater Los Angeles area. Liquidation sales at these stores are ongoing. A new phase will begin every three weeks and follow the same approximate 20-week timeframe, with 11 weeks of liquidation sales and nine weeks of construction. By Thanksgiving of this year, the company expects to have more than 65 House2Home stores in operation throughout the western region.

Spanning more than 100,000 square feet, House2Home stores offer an expansive selection of specialty home decor products at value prices. House2Home incorporates a unique mix of four specialty businesses under one roof, including outdoor living, indoor living, home decor and accessories, and seasonal and party goods.