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Big Lots: Ecommerce in, Canada out

Analysts expected 3Q profit, but company posts a loss

Retail Editor 1 -- Home Textiles Today, December 6, 2013

Columbus, Ohio - Big Lots will wind down its Canadian operation and make a concerted run at ecommerce, social media and omnichannel retailing in 2014, the company announced as it reported a loss for the third quarter.
Big Lots has essayed ecommerce before, but executives said the company did not put appropriate resources behind the effort. Since August, the company has been working closely with a consulting firm to develop its omnichannel strategy. Some 95% of its shoppers own desktop or laptop computers, and 63% use smart phones. Among other things, they want to be able to check in-store availability and order online for in-store pick-up, the company said.
Big Lots will start building its omnichannel infrastructure in 2014, with a full launch slated for the first quarter of 2015.
In the meantime, two years after entering the Canadian market through the acquisition of Liquidation World, it is giving up on the business there. It currently operates 73 stores under the Liquidation World or LW brand names, five stores under the Big Lots brand name, two distribution centers and an office. Big Lots expects the Canadian business to go dark by the first fiscal quarter of next year.
For the third quarter ended Nov. 2, Big Lots' net loss widened to $9.5 million, or 17 cents per share, from a net loss of $6 million, of 10 cents per share in the year-ago period. Consolidated sales ticked up 1.6% to $1.2 million, while comps fell 2.5%.
U.S. sales for the quarter inched up 1.8%, with comps down 2.5%. In Canada, sales slipped 1.9% to $38.3 million, with comps declining 0.9%.