News Local

Big Lots/LW closing Canadian operations 0

By Susan Gamble, Brantford Expositor

Big Lots announced Thursday, December 5, 2013 that it is pulling out of Canada, closing its Canadian headquarters pictured here in Brantford, Ontario, along with two distribution centers and 78 stores under the Liquidation World and Big Lots banners.
BRIAN THOMPSON/BRANTFORD EXPOSITOR/QMI Agency

Big Lots announced Thursday, December 5, 2013 that it is pulling out of Canada, closing its Canadian headquarters pictured here in Brantford, Ontario, along with two distribution centers and 78 stores under the Liquidation World and Big Lots banners. BRIAN THOMPSON/BRANTFORD EXPOSITOR/QMI Agency

Big Lots has announced it is leaving Canada, closing its Brantford head office and 78 stores across the country.

The chain just recently opened a store in Orillia.

Big Lots, which purchased Liquidation World in 2011, has its headquarters, a warehouse and one of its discount stores here in Brantford, all on Henry Street at Wayne Gretzky Parkway.

“Everyone is in shock,” said one employee. “This is going to affect a lot of people connected with the business.”

About 1,600 workers across the country will be affected.

The company plans to complete this operation by the end of February.

“It's not fair,” said another employee.

“Sales have been really good, all the employees have been working really hard putting in lots of extra hours to help improve our numbers and we did.”

The man, who asked that his name not be used, added the discount store is loved by customers who find great deals.

“It's devastating news just before Christmas.

“I wish they would have sold the company instead of liquidating its assets.”

Big Lots is an American business that specializes in clearing manufacturing warehouses of overstocked items and selling them in their Big Lots and Liquidation World stores.

A news release from the company says Big Lots acquired Canada's Liquidation World in 2011 thinking to revitalize it and bring the Big Lots brand to Canada but it hasn't been able to get the “necessary traction” in the marketplace.

“Significant further capital investments and execution risk association with continuing to pursue a turnaround would not be in the best interests of our company and shareholders,” says the news release.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Big Lots had a third-quarter loss of $5 million and is pulling out as other American stores such as Target and Walmart are trying to grow their Canadian market share.

The move will affect Brantford's office, the Canadian headquarters of the store, plus the nearby Liquidation World on Henry Street, another five stores operated under the Big Lots name and two distribution centres.

The company says the “orderly wind-down” process will begin immediately and all principal operations will be done by the end of April 2014.

Closing the stores down is going to cost big bucks too.

According to a look-forward put together by the company, closing down the distribution centres by January and the stores in the first quarter of 2014, will result in a loss from Canadian operations of $38 to $43 million in the last quarter of fiscal 2013.

There will be another loss of $44 to $47 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2014, the report says.

Leaving Canada behind will let Big Lots focus on “bold steps forward,” the release says, including introducing “e-commerce and omnichannel capabilities,” rolling out coolers and freezers to stores, launching a furniture financing program and “significantly realigning our merchandising organization.”

susan.gamble@sunmedia.ca

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