Nation's largest closeout retailer adds international foods section at more than 1,380 stores Brand-Name offerings will be tailored to local communities


COLUMBUS, OH–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–March 17, 2003–How ever you say it, fine dining on a budget has never been easier. Today Big Lots announced the expansion of its foods section to include international foods in all of its more than 1,380 stores across the country.

Pastas and soups, crackers and cookies, spices and beverages including Au Printemps Gourmet, Anna’s, Aiello and many more are among the gourmet items that will be offered at 20 to 50 percent less than most discount and conventional retail store prices. In addition, Hispanic, African American and Asian foods like La Costena, Gamesa, El Pato, Glory Foods, Ka·Me, and A Taste of Thai will be offered on a community-by-community basis.

“We’ve taken a close look at the communities we serve and deployed a team of merchants to tailor our offerings to the tastes of their neighborhoods,” said Norm Rankin, Big Lots general merchandise manager. “We’ve responded to the requests of our customers by providing a more diverse offering at prices that fit within the family budget.”

The International Foods section ranges in size with 50 to 182 items per store and builds on Big Lots successful consumables and holiday gift offerings. Big Lots’ existing foods sections, generate about 13 percent of the company’s $3.8 billion in revenue, providing tremendous values on brand names products from Kellogg’s, Nestle, and General Mills as well as major consumer product companies.

In addition, the Company has offered gourmet items and gift baskets as part of its holiday season lines in recent years – providing customers with holiday treats and gifts at low prices.

“The success of our existing foods business, combined with the terrific reception that gourmet items have traditionally received at the holidays, made the decision to expand an easy one,” noted Big Lots Chief Administrative Officer Al Bell.

Big Lots continues growth as the national closeout leader

The International Foods offering is the latest in a series of initiatives designed to broaden the appeal of closeout shopping and build upon Big Lots national leadership in this category.

A Fortune 500 company with over 45,000 associates, Big Lots has over the past two years converted all stores (Pic ‘N’ Save, Mac Frugal’s and Odd Lots) into a single national band and remodeled nearly half of its more than 1,380 stores.

Plans this year call for:

— The launch of the company’s first ever national television advertising campaign in April 2003, two years ahead of the original plan, providing a cost effective way to leverage the company’s single brand and increase consumer brand awareness

— The opening of 90 new stores

— The continued expansion of the furniture business by adding 145 departments into both new and existing stores

— The continuation of the store remodel program by remodeling over 200 stores in eastern U.S. markets, many of which will include expanded furniture departments

— The implementation of certain elements of the company’s Ohio L.A.B. (Learning and Building) stores, primarily in new and remodeled stores,

— Continued progress on key supply chain initiatives

— The construction of a fifth distribution center to be located in Durant, OK.

Value-conscious consumers are increasingly turning to closeout stores and Big Lots enthusiasts shop the stores frequently for daily consumables as well as exceptional deals for which the company has become known. Some of those deals in the past have included bass boats, golf carts, computers, slot machines, and brand-name furniture from former e-commerce merchant’s and “It’s advantageous to shop our stores frequently,” Bell stated. “By aggressively pursuing deals on quality merchandise at great prices, our customers never know what hidden treasures they’ll find from week to week.”

To learn more about Big Lots, or to speak with a company representative and/or local store manager, contact Keri Lucas at 614.278.7023.

Big Lots, Inc. ( is the nation’s largest broadline closeout retailer with annual revenues exceeding $3.8 billion. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Big Lots operates more than 1,380 retail stores serving 45 states. Four regional distribution centers throughout the country, ranging in size from 1 million to 3 million square feet, provide the company’s stores with brand-name products from more than 3,000 manufacturers. Big Lots offers merchandise at 20 to 40 percent below most discount retailers and up to 70 percent below conventional retailers. Founded in 1967, the company employs more than 45,000 associates across the U.S. By creating excitement with brand name closeouts and bargains through a unique shopping experience, Big Lots meets the needs of customers by providing an assortment of merchandise including consumables, seasonal products, furniture, housewares, toys, and gifts. Big Lots is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol BLI.


Q. Who is Big Lots?

A. With annual sales over $3.8 billion and more than 1,380 stores nationwide, Big Lots is America’s largest broadline closeout retailer. Our stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol BLI and is ranked among the Fortune 500.

Q. What is a closeout?

A. Closeouts are the same first-quality, brand-name products found at other retailers, but at substantially lower prices. Closeout merchandise is acquired from manufacturers who want or need to reduce inventory. Most closeout merchandise is acquired from manufacturers as a result of package changes, cancelled orders, product discontinuation, or test market products.

Q. What does “broadline” mean?

A. As a broadline closeout retailer, Big Lots sells a broad range of high- quality, brand-name products, including consumables, seasonal products, furniture, housewares, toys and gifts – all at closeout prices.

Q. What advantages do closeouts offer to consumers?

A. Closeouts offer customers incredible bargains on a wide selection of brand-name merchandise, as well as bargain-priced basics and seasonal merchandise. Typically, Big Lots sells items for 20 to 40 percent less than discount stores and up to 70 percent below conventional retailers.

Q. How does Big Lots obtain closeout merchandise?

A. Because of our size, international buying clout, and excellent relationships with more than 3,000 manufacturers, Big Lots can locate and negotiate the best deals on a variety of products to meet customers’ wants and needs.

Q. Who shops at Big Lots?

A. We have many kinds of customers who all love to save money. Our budget shoppers are people who look for the lowest price, regardless of the brand. Mart shoppers comprise about one-third of our customer base – they hunt for bargains and prefer brand names. And our deal hunters shop for the fun and the excitement of finding a great bargain.

Q. Where are your stores located?

A. Big Lots stores are where our customers are – in 45 states across the country, in cities large and small, in all kinds of neighborhoods.

Q. How long has Big Lots been in business?

A. Big Lots, as a name, has existed since 1985. The company, however, began in 1967.

Q. How many people does a Big Lots store employ?

A. Most of our stores employ 20 to 40 associates, depending on the time of year.

Q. What is the average sales income of a Big Lots store?

A. Annual per-store sales average $3 million.

Q. How much does it cost to open a new store?

A. The average cost to open a new store in a leased facility is about $650,000, which includes the cost of inventory.

Q. How many stores have furniture departments?

A. Approximately 700 stores have furniture departments. We also currently have 49 freestanding Big Lots Furniture stores throughout the country.

Q. Where do you obtain the furniture sold in Big Lots stores?

A. Approximately 70 percent of the furniture we carry is made in the United States. All of our mattresses, upholstery, and Sauder products are made domestically. The remaining 30 percent is purchased from around the world including Asia, Brazil, Canada, and Mexico.

Q. How do you select which stores will carry furniture?

A. There are several key factors in making this decision. In general the store must have the necessary available square footage (approximately 4,000 sq. ft.). Communities in which choices may be limited regarding furniture are also taken into consideration. Big Lots strives to provide quality merchandise at affordable prices.

Q. How much does Big Lots pay associates?

A. Big Lots offers competitive, market-rate salaries and wages.

Q. Where can people apply for employment with Big Lots?

A. This varies by market and type of position. For positions within our existing stores, candidates can apply at the store. For other positions, candidates can check our Web site at

Note to Editors:

JPG photos of International Foods available by e-mailing



Big Lots

Keri Lucas, 614.278.7023