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plans to build more than 75 stores in the Northeast as part of a $1.3 billion expansion plan.

The home-improvement retailer, second only to

Home Depot


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in size, will appear from Philadelphia to Maine during the next five years.

A large part of the expansion includes increasing the company's presence in major metropolitan areas. Lowe's, which is based in Wilkesboro, N.C., plans to build 25 stores in the Boston area. In the spring, the company will open a store in North Bergen, N.J., its first in the New York City market. The home-improvement chain will also increase its presence in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and build a store in Woonsocket, R.I.

Each Lowe's location will employ about 175 people. The expansion means the creation of about 13,000 jobs throughout the Northeast.

The company opened 100 stores in 2000 and will open 115 to 125 more this year. Currently, there are more than 650 Lowe's stores in 40 states, employing about 100,000 people.

Lowe's gained 33 cents, or 0.6%, to $53.43 in morning trading on the

New York Stock Exchange