PITTSBURGH - PPG Industries Inc. has acquired 27 Duron Inc. paint stores in the Chicago, Indianapolis and Columbus, OH, markets in a move that continues an expansion of PPG's retail architectural-coatings operations in North America.

For Duron, meanwhile, the move represents a pause in the company's expansion into new geographic markets in recent years. Duron, a major regional coatings manufacturer and retailer based in Beltsville, MD, had ventured from its core eastern and southeastern U.S. markets with stores in the Midwest over the past several years.

PPG spokesman Jeff Worden said the acquisition of the Duron stores "makes a whole lot of sense for us because those are important markets and these locations are within 300 miles of our manufacturing locations in Batavia, Illinois, and Louisville." He said it is anticipated that the stores will carry the Pittsburgh Paints name.

The acquisition continues a PPG architectural-coatings expansion program that began in 1998 with the acquisition of the Porter Paints business from Courtaulds plc. PPG in 1999 purchased Wattyl Paint Corp.'s retail paint operations in the southeastern United States, and in 2000, PPG acquired Monarch Paint Co. of Houston.

Gary Saiter, Duron's director of Marketing and e-Commerce, said the economic slowdown that began last year figured prominently in a company decision to focus on its core markets in the Mid-Atlantic and southern states. He added that the company will continue to seek expansion opportunities in those areas, either through acquisition or the opening of new stores.