When Steven Fishman took over as chairman, president and CEO of Big Lots Inc. in 2005, the closeout store chain had generated $27 million in annual profit and $4.4 billion in annual sales. It was a good start, but Fishman saw much more in the Big Lots name.
The company needed a new strategy to realize its larger potential, so upon taking the helm, Fishman designed and implemented a strategy he named “What’s Important Now,” or “WIN.” The WIN strategy focused the entire Big Lots corporation on three specific areas: merchandising, real estate and cost structure.
The merchandising aspect of the strategy focused on giving customers higher-quality merchandise, better values and more brand-name products from which to choose. The real estate aspect focused on improving Big Lots’ return on investment through slowing the rate of opening new stores, improving the efficiency and profitability of existing stores, closing nonperforming stores, and adding new point-of-sale systems in new and existing stores.
The cost structure aspect focused on reduction of inventory at distribution centers by moving more inventory to stores and putting more decisions involving the handling of merchandise and work scheduling in the hands of store-level employees.
The new strategy showed results early in the process. In 2006, Big Lots turned a profit for the first time in the second and third fiscal quarters — traditionally loss quarters for the company. In 2008, the company generated $255 million in operating revenue on $4.6 billion in sales — almost a tenfold increase in profit on a slight increase in sales.
If you ask Fishman the key to becoming a successful entrepreneur, he would tell you to develop a culture of accountability. And accountability starts at the top with Fishman, who knows it is his job to set the vision and make the tough calls to drive Big Lots to continued prosperity.
How to reach: Big Lots Inc., (614) 278-6800 or www.biglots.com