At a time when many retailers have been closing stores, Dollar General (NYSE: DG) has been adding them at a furious pace.

The discount chain plans to open 1,000 new locations in 2017, after it added 900 in 2016. Also last year, it purchased 41 Wal-Mart Express locations after the giant retailer dropped that concept, and relocated 40 of its existing stores to those larger sites.

Now, Dollar General has confirmed to The Charlotte Observer that it plans to buy all 323 stores in 36 states owned by Dollar Express. That chain has been owned by private equity firm Sycamore partners since late 2015.

What is Dollar General buying?

Sycamore bought the Dollar Express stores after they became available when federal regulators made selling some locations a condition of approval of Dollar Tree's acquisition of Family Dollar in 2015, according to Supermarket News. At the time of the sale, the stores had sales of around $500 million annually, producing $45.5 million in operating income, the website wrote. 

Dollar General had previously failed in a 2014 attempt to buy Family Dollar. The company has not commented on its latest purchase, and employees at the acquired stores were given termination notices, according to the Observer, though some could ultimately be hired back.

Growth at all costs

Dollar General has been growing while other retailers struggle because consumers are still seeing the appeal of value-based brick-and-mortar chains. In 2016, the company's net sales increased by 7.9% while same-store sales inched up 0.9%. CEO Todd Vasos broadly explained the company's growth plans in its Q4 earnings release.

"Dollar General is well-positioned to serve our customers with value and convenience given our plans to open approximately 1,000 new stores in 2017," he said. "To strengthen our position for the long term, we are making significant investments, primarily in compensation and training for our store managers given the critical role this position plays in our customer experience, as well as strategic initiatives."

Buying these 323 locations fits into that strategy -- it simply speeds up the chain's efforts a bit. It's possible that some of these acquisitions will allow the chain to open fewer new stores, but given that Dollar General has been pursuing growth so aggressively, it's likely that it would just shift any openings made redundant by this deal to other under-served markets.

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Daniel Kline has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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