Big Lots completes Canadian trifecta for U.S. retailers

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Big Lots has acquired 89 Liquidation World stores in Canada and becomes the latest U.S. retailer to pursue growth opportunities north of the border.

The company said it invested $20 million in cash and assumed certain liabilities in order to purchase all outstanding shares, satisfy debt obligations, and acquire all assets and leasehold rights of Liquidation World, an operator of 89 stores offering closeout merchandise. Big Lots currently operates 1,405 stores in the United States.

“Today we have taken a significant step forward in positioning Big Lots for sustainable long-term growth as we expand beyond our borders and enter the Canadian marketplace,” said Steve Fishman, Big Lots chairman, CEO and president. “We see an opportunity for multiple years of growth in new stores and new jobs and we look forward to bringing extreme value retailing and a treasure hunt atmosphere to customers throughout Canada.”

To facilitate the growth potential envisioned by Fishman, the company made two personnel moves involving finance executives Joe Cooper and Tim Johnson. Current CFO Cooper was given oversight of the new market entry with the title of president of Big Lots Canada. Johnson was elevated to the position of SVP finance from his prior role as VP strategic planning and real estate.

The company’s entry into Canada follows a record year of U.S. expansion in 2010 when 80 new stores were opened. More of the same is planned for 2011 with 90 new units expected in addition to 45 closures as the company repositions some of its real estate.

As for Canada, Big Lots is the latest U.S. retailer to enter the market via acquisition including last fall’s announcement by Dollar Tree to purchase 85 Dollar Giant Stores. The most notable move in Canada involving a U.S. retailer occurred early this year though when Target announced its acquisition of 220 Zellers leases. Due to extensive renovations expected to take place in those stores the first Target locations are not expected to open until 2013.

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