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New Big Lots Chief Expresses ‘Sense of Urgency'

COLUMBUS, OHIO - On the heels of Big Lots' tough first quarter, the company's newly appointed ceo and president, David Campisi, outlined his goals for the business.
     "My top priority is to engage with our executive leadership team, merchants and our planning groups, our store operations team, as together we will travel to stores and our single focus will be to learn more about the business and our customers' wants and desires, and develop a vision on how best to move Big [Lots] forward," said Campisi, who assumed his post on May 6, upon the departure of his predecessor, Steve Fishman.
     Speaking during the company's quarterly conference call on May 30, the 30-year retail veteran added: "Merchandising, marketing and execution all the way through to the stores are the engine, which needs to accelerate in this business at a much quicker pace and with a sense of urgency."
     Campisi said the merchandising team has already begun testing a few of initiatives. Among them is a recently introduced cooler program on trial in 75 stores located in five markets to draw in more traffic. In particular, Big Lots is hoping to attract shoppers enrolled in the Federal government's SNAP - Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - formerly known as the food stamp program.
     Also proving successful so far is Big Lots' store remodel program, which calls for new fixtures, new flooring, repaired ceilings, new doors, improved lighting, and new signage. The effort is being expanded to stores in four states over this summer.
     U.S. operations results for the first quarter included: Consolidated income from continuing operations of $32.3 million, or 56 cents per diluted share; net sales of $1.27 billion, up 1.0%; and a 2.9% decline in comparable store sales.
     The home category posted comps that were down in the mid-single digits, and Big Lots expects the trend to "remain difficult and promotional to make room for new product" this fall.
     First quarter results for Big Lots' Canadian operations included: a net loss of $4.4 million, or 8 cents per share non- GAAP, versus a net loss of $6.1 million, or 9 cents per share non-GAAP a year ago; a 13.5% increase in net sales to $36.6 million; and a 13.2% gain in comps.

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