Soft home in spotlight at Big Lots’ ‘Store of the Future’

Columbus, Ohio – Soft home is moving up, and food is moving to the back at the store at Big Lots. In its emerging “Store of the Future” concept, Big Lots has come up with a new layout that emphasizes soft home, furniture and seasonal and downplays its former headliners - food and consumables.

“We are very excited about the way it is coming together,” said David Campisi, ceo and president, during the company’s earnings call this morning. “We took the board through there on Wednesday night, and it is an eye opener when you see how exciting and how wide open it is…you can see all the way back.”

 

He explained that in this new concept Big Lots is “focused on where we win, what is own-able” – and that new definition is soft home, furniture and seasonal categories, all of which have been posting positive comps for several quarters.

“This is something very different from what is being done out there,” he noted.

Added Tim Johnson, evp, chief financial officer and chief administrative officer: “We’ve lowered the sight lines [in the Store of the Future], and it’s much, much easier to see front to back, side to side. We feel very good about this decision We need the benefit of time to see how Jennifer responds. But the [retail] landscape has changed significantly and quickly over last 12 months.”

Big Lots is on track to add 30 new Stores of the Future this year, starting in the Columbus area.

“Today, we probably have five to six stores fully complete and we’re reading those results. And based on everything we have seen, there are no surprises to the downsides and plenty of god data points to the positive side, both from the experience standpoint and sales standpoint…we feel it is working.”

Affordable pricing is Big Lots’ competitive edge in its new retail presentation, Campisi added.

“We are still at a price point range that nobody can touch,” he said – even as the Store of the Future’s assortment expands to include new items with higher retails than typical to Big Lots, including area rugs.

Big Lots’ Store of the Future isn’t its only concept accentuating soft home. In June, the company completed space changes to expand soft window and bath offerings while editing frames.

Soft home comps were up mid-single digits in the second quarter, led by bath, decorative textiles, flooring, utility bedding and window.

“[We are] winning with a trend-right merchandise assortment [in soft home,” he added.

Seasonal proved Q2’s best-performing category, with strong sell-throughs in patio furniture, lawn & garden and summer products.

Total comps rose 1.8% for the quarter, and net sales increased 1.5% to $1.22 billion. Net income jumped 28% to $29.1 million, or $0.67 per diluted share, from $22.7 million, or $0.50 per diluted share.

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