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Big Lots exiting wholesale business, eyes furniture financing

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Closeout retailer Big Lots announced Friday that it is closing its wholesale division in order to focus on other business opportunities, including the introduction of furniture financing in its retail stores.

The wholesale operations, which operate under the names Big Lots Wholesale, Consolidated International and Wisconsin Toy, will be phased out during the fourth quarter of the company's fiscal year, which ends Feb. 2.

Those businesses sold merchandise to other businesses and nonprofit groups that were exempt from paying sales tax. Goods found in Big Lots retail stores were not sold by the wholesale operations.

"As part of our strategic planning process, we have to make difficult decisions about existing businesses or investments where we are not generating a good financial return or where we do not see an opportunity to win longer term," said David Campisi, president and CEO. "As such, we have made the determination that closing our wholesale business is in the best interest of our company and our shareholders."

In recent years, he said the wholesale business has become much more competitive, which limits opportunities for sales and margin growth.

"We believe a narrower focus and investing in new ways to enhance our relationship with the customer will provide greater value for our shareholders over the longer term."

The retailer didn't offer specifics on the furniture financing program, but said it is one of several growth initiatives it is pursuing.

According to Furniture/Today market research, Big Lots had furniture and bedding sales of $936.5 million in 2012, which represented about 17.9% of total sales. The retailer carries Serta bedding, Ashley Furniture's Signature Design line, and Simmons upholstery, which is manufactured by United Furniture.

The company operates 1,527 Big Lots stores in the U.S. and five in Canada. In addition, it has 74 Liquidation World and LW stores in Canada.

 

 

 

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