New York (Jan. 16, 2004) -- If they aren’t there already, H&R Block may soon be coming to your neighborhood, if the company’s leaders have their way.

The tax prep and financial services powerhouse plans to open more locations in market areas which they haven't already highly penetrated,   chief operating officer Jeff Yabuki told attendees at the company's annual investment community conference this week. "We expect to be adding locations over the next several years in a way we haven't seen historically," Yabuki said. That’s because the firm said that client retention and the ability to attract new clients increase with market density.

At the meeting Wednesday, Yabuki noted that Block maintains an overall average of 25 percent of paid preparer penetration in the U.S. -- a figure that increases in high-density areas and decreases in medium- and low-density areas. Since figures released by the firm show that Block has what it considers to be high-density penetration in just 39 percent of the U.S., it appears that the company has plenty of room to grow its number of locations.

"It's the competition that has led us to a deeper understanding of the density factor," added Block chairman Mark Ernst. "Our competition figured out that there was a density aspect that we hadn't understood or acted on."

But Ernst said the company’s competition hasn't differentiated itself. "They said we do what Block does, and we do it on your street corner," he said.

-- Roger Russell

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