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Retail briefs

Big Lots opens new DC

Big Lots, a closeout retailer, recently opened a $70 million, 1.2 million-square-foot distribution center in Durant, Okla.

The center is the fifth Big Lots distribution center, which collectively service over 1,400 stores across the country.

Big Lots Chairman and CEO Michael Potter said: "We found Durant provided the best opportunity for maximum economic efficiencies as well as providing a large base of committed, hard working, and dedicated people. This facility is a solid addition to our supply chain initiative and has the capacity to accommodate future growth."

The 125-acre site was chosen after a search that included evaluating more than 12 locations throughout several states. Big Lots completed the project in 18 months. In addition to opening the new distribution center, Big Lots opened a new 37,000-square-foot store on West Main Street, joining 22 other Big Lots stores already in Oklahoma.

Home Depot heads East

The Home Depot has set its sites on the growing consumer market in China, establishing a new Asia division to spearhead its entry into the country.

"About 70 percent of home improvement spending in China is for completion of interior space in new homes. We see that as a solid growth opportunity given The Home Depot's strength in merchandise and services geared to finishing out a home," said Bill Patterson, who last week was named president of the new division. (see page 27)

This will be the retailer's first expansion beyond the North American region, where it operates units in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, eight Canadian provinces, and Mexico. The Home Depot recently acquired Home Mart in Mexico, doubling its presence there and making the company the leader in Mexico's $15 billion home improvement market. In addition, the retailer will celebrate its 10th anniversary in Canada this year, where it operates more than 100 stores.

JCP awarded at LIMA

The International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association (LIMA) named JCPenney Retailer of the Year at the International Licensing Excellence Awards, held in New York.

Penney received the award for The Nick Zone, which featured SpongeBob, Dora the Explorer, Blue's Clues and others. In the evening's other retail-related award, Nickelodeon garnered the award for Best Promotion of the Year for its SpongeBob Month at Wal-Mart.

Value City: No more cheaping out

Value City has been steadily moving out of "chintzy cheap" merchandise as it works to boost average ticket sizes and one day return to a 2 percent net margin structure, executives said during parent company Retail Ventures Inc.'s quarterly conference call last week.

"We're continuing to improve the merchandise content and the price points that customers want to see in Value City," said John Rossler, president and CEO.

Research found that Value City's pricing was too steeply discounted in relation to other retailers, he said. The full impact of the better assortments will begin hitting stores around back-to-school.

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