COLUMBUS, Ohio-Fourth-quarter net income for closeout retailer Big Lots finished 4.2 percent ahead of the fourth quarter of last year, totaling $114.7 million.
For the fiscal year as a whole ending on Jan. 28, Big Lots’ net fell 6.9 percent to $207.1 million. Net sales in the quarter jumped 9.9 percent to $1.7 billion, including a gain of 3.4 percent in same-store sales for its U.S. stores. For the year, net sales were $5.2 billion, 5 percent up over the prior year and a record for the company.
Steve Fishman, Big Lots’ chairman, president and CEO, said, “We were aggressive this year in certain key merchandise initiatives, and our strategies accelerated sales trends as the year progressed.” Fishman noted that the fiscal year saw Big Lots’ expansion into Canada with its acquisition of Liquidation World, along with the opening of 92 U.S. stores.
In the quarter, gross margin fell 60 basis points to 40.2 percent. Selling, general and administrative expenses rose 8 percent in dollars but declined 50 basis points as a percentage of sales, to 27.3 percent.
For the current fiscal year, Big Lots projected a comparable-store sales increase of from 2 to 3 percent for its U.S. stores. The company also expects to open another 90 U.S. stores during the year.