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Big Lots making big changes in home

Columbus, Ohio - Big Lots, the 12th largest retailer of home textiles with more than $400 million in 2012 sales, is reworking the home department as part of its larger "edit to amplify" strategy of evolving the store assortment. The home redo will touch furniture, soft home and hard home - with some tweaks in how the retailer approaches close-outs.
"We need to be smart about close-outs and be timely," said ceo David Campisi, who joined the company last May.
Too often, Big Lots is picking up close-outs not at post peak of a trend cycle but when the goods are "on the exit, and that has to stop," he told analysts during this morning's third quarter conference call.
The new metrics merchants are to operate by are quality, brand, fashion and value. "Candidly, in home we've struggled with all four. To be quite honest, a lot of the product has been ugly."
In home textiles, Big Lots will continue to pursue close-outs for top-of-bed and some other categories, but it will also create ongoing in-stock programs for key basics.
The retailer will make clearer merchandising distinctions between soft and hard home. In the latter, Big Lots will ditch items like faucets and plumbing fixtures to focus on tabletop, cookware and kitchen gadgets.
The company is looking to take a bigger share of the furniture market - already a $1 billion business at Big Lots - by expanding a financing program it has been testing in limited markets. The company will also test a new layout that pulls furniture to the front of the store on the right hand side, with gondola presentations of hard home and soft home flowing behind.
In addition, Big Lots will integrate home décor, wall art, frame art and other appropriate categories into the furniture department.
"When we sell a sofa, we're hoping to get one more item in that basket - like an area rug or some wall art," said Campisi, whose merchandising background includes positions at The Kitchen Collection, Petco, Sears Holdings, Giant Eagle, and the former May Company Department Stores
He emphasized that Big Lots is not developing a new prototype, nor does it plan to sink any significant amount of cap ex into the effort. More broadly, the company is ramping up its cooler and consumables programs to drive traffic.
"We will be repositioning and relaying how we look at the store," he added. "Today, I would say the shopping experience is schizophrenic, depending where you go in the store."

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