Sidney and Glasgow will be getting some expanded choices in their largest variety stores sometime in the next year. Shopko, has announced they are in the process of merging with Pamida stores. The deal is expected to close in mid-February. Financial details of the merger were not disclosed. Tara Powers, spokesperson for Shopko told The Examiner that all employees will retain their jobs andbenefits. As stores are converted from Pamida to Shopko, shoppers will find the same types of products they depend on at the stores. Shopko will add more national brands and higher quality durable goods. Naitonal the store conversions will be gin in the summer but a schedule for eastern Montana stores has not yet been released. The merger takes two of the larger midwest general merchandise retail chains and puts them into what will be one the largest U.S. retailers focused on serving smaller and rural communities. The combined entity will have nearly 350 locations in 22 states and plans for new store growth in the second half of 2012 and beyond. Financial details of the merger, which is expected to close in mid-February, were not disclosed. With annual revenues of $2 billion, Green Bay, Wis.-based Shopko operates 149 stores in 13 states located throughout the Midwest, Mountain and Pacific Northwest regions. Omaha, Neb.-based Pamida operates 193 stores in 17 states, primarily in the Mountain, North Central and Midwest regions, and has revenues of approximately $1 billion. The combined company, which will be headquartered in Green Bay, will use the Shopko name and be led by Shopko President, Chairman and CEO W. Paul Jones. Pamida President and CEO John Harlow will serve on the leadership team and help direct the integration process. There will be no change to Shopko’s stores, and approximately $80 million will be invested over the next 12 months in the conversion of most of Pamida’s locations to the Shopko Hometown store concept and brand. The Shopko Hometown retail format, developed over the past three years to augment Shopko’s larger store model, offers a differentiated and financially successful merchandising strategy. Shopko Hometown combines pharmacy services with a broad and dynamic offering of strong national brands and high-value private label brands of apparel, toys, consumer electronics, seasonal items, and lawn and garden products – all in attractive, well laid out, easy-to-shop store formats that range from 15,000 to 35,000 square feet. The business model has been tested over the past two years by Shopko. Shopko purchased seven stores from Pamida and successfully transitioned them to the Shopko Hometown format. Those locations have delivered an improved customer experience and have seen a significant increase in store traffic, sales and profitability, affirming the potential of the merger. Once Pamida’s chain-wide conversions are complete, the company plans to accelerate the addition of new Shopko Hometown stores in the second half of 2012 and into 2013. Both companies are owned by affiliates of Sun Capital Partners, Inc., a leading private investment firm focused on leverage buyouts, equity, debt, and other investments in market-leading companies.