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Here comes Conn’s, 100th store in sight


The growth aspirations of Conn’s were revealed in the span of a few days recently when, with a new CEO at the helm, it entered the Georgia market and increased its presence in Colorado.

With the opening of a 50,000-sq.-ft. store in Augusta, its first in the state of Georgia, and a 46,000-sq.-ft. store near Denver, its seventh store in Colorado, Conn’s is set to open its 100th store next month. The milestone is noteworthy, but the 100th opening will be but one of 20 stores the retailer expects to open by the time its fiscal year ends early next year.

While the company is not well known nationally, that could be changing in the coming years following a lengthy strategic review of operations, and the recent appointment of a veteran retail and consumer packaged goods executive as CEO. In early September, Conn’s named Norman Miller president and CEO and reported second quarter sales results that showed respectable growth but an underwhelming profit picture.

Norman joins Conn’s after previously serving as president of Sear Automotive and president and COO of DFC Global Corp., a leading financial service company focused on serving unbanked and underbanked consumers. He also held management roles at Aramark, Nestle, Kraft and Pepsi. And he graduated from West Point and served as an officer in the U.S. Army.

Conn’s should be well served by an executive with such a diverse background considering the company’s unique operating model and reliance on extending credit to subprime customers to drive sales. A key differentiating factors for Conn’s is the company’s in house financing arm branded as “Yes Money.” Liberal lending standards help the company grow sales, as was the case in the second quarter when same-store sales advanced 3.1%. However, the company also had to set aside more money for potential write offs of bad loans as it 60-day delinquency rate increased to 9.2%, compared to 8.4% at the end of the first quarter and 8.7% at the end of the second quarter the prior year.

Upon Norman’s appointment, the company’s lead independent director, Bob Martin, place high expectations on the new executive.

"As Conn’s completes a significant repositioning, we expect the company to derive significant benefits from Norm’s proven ability to deliver deep operational excellence at scale and his significant leadership experience managing larger workforces with a decentralized operating model,” Martin said. “He also brings in-depth understanding of the needs of the unbanked consumer and the critical importance of providing great service and value to these consumers."

Norman noted at the time that Conn’s is, “a business where there is tremendous opportunity to scale once we set the foundation right to support its growth.”

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