Domestics Leads Charge at Big Lots

Big Lots' home business during the first quarter was "pretty good" and led by domestics, chairman and ceo Steve Fishman told analysts during a conference call before the company's annual shareholders meeting last week.

The quarter, ended May 5, saw profits more than double to $29.1 million from $14.5 million a year ago. Results did not include 130 stores closed in January 2006. Earnings per share from continuing operations were 26 cents compared to 13 cents last year.

Sales increased 3.4% to $1.13 billion, with comps rising 4.9%.

"We drove higher gross margin dollars per store and per foot — and did so on less SG&A [selling, general & administrative expense] per store and per foot compared to last year," said Fishman.

While domestics led in the home departments, it was furniture (classified as its own category) that proved the strongest business across the store during the quarter, said Fishman. Furniture comps rose in the low double-digits, on top of a 10% increase last year.

In other initiatives, he said the global sourcing organization the company put in place last October should start showing results in form of fatter margins in the third and fourth quarters.

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