Eight months into his role as CEO and with a new merchandising organization in place, David Campisi is following a familiar blueprint to reinvigorate the performance of Big Lots — making hard choices to streamline operations, implementing new merchandising strategies and lowering near-term expectations.
Each of these situations was evident after Big Lots reported third-quarter results which saw consolidated same-store sales fall 2.5% during the third quarter ended Nov. 2 and the company reported a loss from continuing operations of $9.5 million, or 17 cents a share, compared to a loss the prior year of $6 million, or 10 cents a share.
The operator of more than 1,500 U.S. stores now expects fourth-quarter same-store sales to decline in the low- to mid-single digits and total sales are expected to fall between 6% and 8%, although much of that decline is due to the comparison of a 13-week 2013 fourth quarter to a 14-week 2012 fourth quarter. To improve matters in 2014, the company decided to shed its 73-unit Canadian business which was acquired in 2011 and has a new merchandising and marketing organization pursuing a range of initiatives to generate traffic and increase transaction size.
“Throughout the last two years, we have invested in this business and our team in Canada has worked diligently to turn it around,” the company offered in a statement. “However, we have not been able to gain the necessary traction in the Canadian marketplace that had originally been anticipated and believe that the significant further capital investments and execution risk associated with continuing to pursue a turnaround would not be in the best interests of our company and shareholders.”
To improve its fortunes in the U.S., CEO Campisi has restructured much of the senior leadership team in recent months and tempered expectations for sales and profits enabling the company to begin the new year with a relatively clean slate.
Campisi, himself a veteran retail executive with a background in merchandising, joined Big Lots eight months ago after holding senior leadership roles at the Sports Authority, Kohl’s and Fred Meyer. One of his first moves was to bring in Andrew Stein in late October to serve as chief customer officer. Stein is tasked with leading the retai