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Big Lots speeds up name shift

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, June 4, 2001

COLUMBUS, OH — Despite a $30 million shortfall in sales based on its original objective for the first quarter ended May 5, Consolidated Stores, now renamed Big Lots Inc., will accelerate its store conversion to the new name by the end of 2002.

The company, which operates 1,306 closeout stores, reopened its units in Tucson, AZ, Denver and here under the Big Lots name late last month. "Based on our progress to date, the company will accelerate the conversion timeline," bringing all stores to the Big Lots name one year sooner than originally planned, said Michael Potter, chairman and ceo.

The company, Potter added, is "seeing continued improvement" from a sharp decline in customer traffic trends. "We still have a long way to go."

For the first quarter, sales were $773.6 million, a 7 percent increase compared with the first quarter of 2000. Comp sales for stores open two years at the beginning of the fiscal year increased 1.4 percent for the first quarter, comprising an increase of 2.1 percent in the average basket and a 0.7 percent decline in customer transactions.

Looking ahead, Potter said, the company is eliminating two advertising circulars for the second quarter "and continues to face a challenging and promotional retail environment."

Big Lots also said that Mark Shapiro, senior vp and cfo, will leave the company effective June 15 to join Fleming Cos., Dallas, in a senior financial position. The company has begun a search for a new cfo, and in the interim, the finance department will report to Albert Bell, vice chairman and chief administrative officer, who will serve as acting cfo.

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