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Burlington exec joins Big Lots C-suite; adds new sourcing role

Big Lots more than 1,420 stores in 48 states.
Big Lots operates 1,420 stores in 48 states.

Big Lots is making two additions to its senior leadership team, including a new “extreme value” sourcing position.

The off-price retailer named Kristen Cox as senior VP, chief stores officer, responsible for developing and implementing operational strategies to drive sales, improve margins, and enhance customer service across all stores. She fills the role left vacant by the retirement of Nick Padovano earlier this year. 

Cox joins Big Lots from Burlington Stores, where she spent nearly seven years, most recently as senior VP of human resources for all stores. Prior to joining Burlington in 2017, Cox spent 16 years at Macy’s Inc., including serving as executive VP of stores for the company’s North Central Region from 2013 to 2017.

In another appointment, Seth Marks is joining Big Lots in the newly formed role of senior VP, extreme value sourcing, focused on procuring outstanding products at exceptional values through unique closeout opportunities. 

Marks previously spent three years with Big Lots, from 2004 to 2007, as VP, merchandising. He is returning to the company with a wealth of additional off-price retail experience, including liquidation, closeout  and alternative sourcing relationships. Most recently, Marks was with Channel Control Merchants, where he served as the chief merchandising officer. 

Prior to Channel Control, Marks served as CEO of Hilco Wholesale Solutions and chief merchant for Hilco Merchant Resources, the world's largest liquidation firm. His previous experience also includes serving as CEO of Liquidation World, senior VP of merchandising & strategic initiatives at and head of off price at Sears Holdings.

Both Cox and Marks will begin in their roles on Dec. 4, 2023.  

In addition to announcing the executive appointments, Big Lots also reported its third-quarter results. The retailer reported net income of $4.7 million, or $0.16  a share, for the quarter ended Oct. 28, after a loss of $103.0 million, or $3.56 a share, in the year-ago period. Net sales fell 14.7% to $1.027 billion. Same-store sales decreased 13.2%. 

“Although the environment remains challenging, we continued to make significant progress in turning around our business,” stated Big Lots CEO Bruce Thorn. “Our key strategic actions are building momentum and we continue to play offense with our efforts to deliver incredible bargains and communicate unmistakable value.  As a result, we are now on track to deliver an adjusted Q4 operating result ahead of last year, which would mark the first quarter of year-over-year improvement in nearly three years, and we expect quarterly year-over-year improvements to continue through 2024."

Thorn said the improvement was driven by five key actions the company has taken: to own bargains, communicate unmistakable value, increase store relevance, win with omnichannel and drive productivity.

On the cost reduction and productivity front, Thorn said Big Lots is well on track to achieve its structural SG&A savings goal of over $100 million in 2023. 

During the third quarter of fiscal 2023, the company completed the sale and leaseback of distribution center in Apple Valley, Calif., and 23 owned stores, resulting in gross proceeds of $306 million.

"To support our ongoing turnaround, our efforts to aggressively manage costs, inventory and capital expenditures, as well as monetize our assets with completion of a $306 million sale/leaseback in the quarter, have allowed us to significantly strengthen our balance sheet,” Thorn said. “Our ongoing efforts are providing us with ample liquidity to weather the macroeconomic challenges, even if they are prolonged. We expect to generate substantial free cash flow and significantly reduce outstanding debt in the fourth quarter."

Big Lots operates 1,420 stores in 48 states.

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