Broadline closeout retailer Big Lots, which operates 1,527 stores in the U.S., announced today that it is shutting down its wholesale operations, which have operated under the names Consolidated International and Wisconsin Toy for 34 years.
It was a business that on the surface made a lot of sense: As the wholesale operation's website says, "Big Lots has the power to negotiate the best deals in the business." But operations will cease by the end of the fiscal year, and the company says it is working on liquidating inventory and assimilating it into retail stores in the next 90 days.
Comments on the announcement from David Campisi, CEO and president:
The leadership team of the Company is working diligently and is deeply committed to delivering a comprehensive and detailed long-range strategic plan. As such, we are evaluating all aspects of our current operations and potential new business opportunities to chart a new course, a course where we believe we have the best opportunity to win and provide value for our customers, our associates, and our shareholders. We have already identified and begun to execute towards several new initiatives such as the expansion of our cooler and freezer program, the introduction of furniture financing, and our desire to enter the digital, social, and omni-channel space. Each of these opportunities, and there are many more under development, are designed to better serve our target customer, Jennifer. These new initiatives also represent potential growth and development for our associates here in Columbus and in our field operations team.
As part of our strategic planning process, we have to make difficult decisions about existing businesses or investments where we are not generating a good financial return or where we do not see an opportunity to win longer term. As such, we have made the determination that closing our wholesale business is in the best interest of our company and our shareholders. This is not a decision we take lightly, as a number of associates who have been dedicated and worked very hard in an effort to grow the wholesale business will be impacted. Over the years, the wholesale business environment has changed, become increasingly more competitive, and the sales and margin growth opportunities are not what they once were. We believe a narrower focus and investing in new ways to enhance our relationship with the customer will provide greater value for our shareholders over the longer term.