We are a mall based specialty retailer of action sports related apparel, footwear, equipment and accessories operating under the Zumiez brand name. As of January 31, 2009 we operated 343 stores primarily located in shopping malls, giving us a presence in 31 states. We were founded in 1978 by Thomas D. Campion, our Chairman. Our current Chief Executive Officer, Richard M. Brooks joined us as Chief Financial Officer in 1993. Our stores cater to young men and women between the ages of 12 and 24 who seek popular brands representing a lifestyle centered on activities that include skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding, BMX and motocross. We support the action sports lifestyle and promote our brand through a multi-faceted marketing approach that is designed to integrate our brand image with our customers' activities and interests. This approach, combined with our differentiated merchandising strategy, store design, comprehensive training programs and passionate employees, allows us to provide an experience for our customers that we believe is consistent with their attitudes, fashion tastes and identities and is otherwise unavailable in most malls.
Our stores bring the look and feel of an independent specialty shop to the mall by emphasizing the action sports lifestyle through a distinctive store environment and high-energy sales personnel. We seek to staff our stores with store associates who are knowledgeable users of our products, which we believe provides our customers with enhanced customer service and supplements our ability to identify and react quickly to emerging trends and fashions. We design our stores to appeal to teenagers and young adults and to serve as a destination for our customers. Most of our stores, which average approximately 2,900 square feet, feature couches and action sports oriented video game stations that are intended to encourage our customers to shop for longer periods of time and to interact with each other and our store associates. To increase customer traffic, we generally locate our stores near busy areas of the mall such as food courts, movie theaters, music or game stores and other popular teen retailers. We believe that our distinctive store concept and compelling store economics will provide continued opportunities for growth in both new and existing markets.
We believe that our customers desire merchandise and fashion that is rooted in the action sports lifestyle and reflects their individuality. We strive to keep our merchandising mix fresh by continuously introducing new brands and styles and categories of product. Our focus on a diverse collection of brands allows us to quickly adjust to changing fashion trends. We believe that our strategic mix of both apparel and hardgoods, including skateboards, snowboards, bindings, components and other equipment, allows us to strengthen the potential of the brands we sell and helps to affirm our credibility with our customers. In addition, we supplement our stores with a select offering of private label apparel and products as a value proposition that we believe complements our overall merchandise selection.
Over our 30-year history, we have developed a corporate culture based on a passion for the action sports lifestyle. Our management philosophy emphasizes an integrated combination of results measurement, training and incentive programs, all designed to drive sales productivity at the individual store associate level. We empower our store managers to make store-level business decisions and consistently reward their success. We seek to enhance the productivity of our employees and encourage their advancement by offering comprehensive in-store, regional and national training programs, which we refer to collectively as "Zumiez University." We have:
increased our store count from 113 as of the end of fiscal 2003 to 343 as of the end of fiscal 2008 a compounded annual growth rate of 24.9%;
experienced net sales per square foot in excess of $420 for our last five fiscal years ending with fiscal 2008;
increased net sales from approximately $117.9 million in fiscal 2003 to approximately $408.7 million in fiscal 2008, representing a compound annual growth rate of 28.2%;
increased operating profit from $7.5 million in fiscal 2003 to $24.6 million in fiscal 2008, representing a compound annual growth rate of 26.8% and
been profitable in every fiscal year of our 30 year history.
We intend to expand our presence as a leading action sports lifestyle retailer by:
Opening New Store Locations
We believe that the action sports lifestyle has national appeal that provides store expansion opportunities throughout the country. Since the end of fiscal 2004 through the year ended January 31, 2009 (fiscal 2008) we have opened or acquired 205 new stores, consisting of 35 new stores in fiscal 2005, 42 new stores in fiscal 2006, and 50 new stores in fiscal 2007, and 58 stores in fiscal 2008. We also acquired 100% of the ownership of 20 stores (17 in Texas, 2 in Oklahoma and 1 in California) from Action Concepts Fast Forward, Ltd. (a limited partnership) ("Fast Forward"), an apparel and accessory retail sales company. We have successfully opened stores in diverse markets throughout the United States, which we believe demonstrates the portability and growth potential of our concept. We plan to open approximately 37 stores in fiscal 2009, including stores in our existing markets and in new markets, to take advantage of what we believe to be a compelling economic store model. Unlike previous years, the number of anticipated store openings may increase or decrease due to market conditions.
Continuing to Generate Sales Growth through Improved Store Level Productivity. We seek to maximize our comparable store sales and net sales per square foot by maintaining consistent store-level execution and offering our customers a broad and relevant selection of action sports brands and products. We also intend to continue to expand our brand awareness in an effort to maintain high levels of customer traffic.
Enhancing our Brand Awareness through Continued Marketing and Promotion. We believe that a key component of our success is the brand exposure that we receive from our marketing events, promotions and activities that embody the action sports lifestyle. These are designed to assist us in increasing brand awareness in our existing markets and expanding into new markets by strengthening our connection with our target customer base. We believe that our marketing efforts have also been successful in generating and promoting interest in our product offerings. In addition, we use our ecommerce presence, designed to convey our passion for the action sports lifestyle, to increase our brand awareness. We plan to continue to expand our integrated marketing efforts by promoting more events and activities in our existing and new markets.