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Big Lots Q3 Loss Less Bad Than Expected, CEO Fishman Announces Retirement

For the third quarter of fiscal 2012 ended October 27, Big Lots, Inc. today reported a loss from continuing operations of $6 million, or 10 cents per diluted share, versus $4.2 million, or six cents per diluted share, for the third quarter of fiscal 2011. At the same time, Big Lots  announced that Steven Fishman informed the company of his desire to retire from his position as chairman, CEO and president.

As they reviewed Big Lots operations leading up to its third quarter financial announcement, analysts polled by Thomson Reuters anticipated a third-quarter loss of 24 cents per diluted share.

Total Big Lots sales were $1.13 billion for the most recently completed quarter compared to $1.14 billion in the corresponding fiscal period last year.

Third quarter net sales for operations in the United States decreased 1.9% to $1.1 billion while comparable store sales decreased 4.6% for the period. Loss from continuing U.S. operations was $1.7 million, or three cents per diluted share non-GAAP, compared to income from continuing U.S. operations of $11.4 million, 17 cents per diluted share non-GAAP, for the fiscal 2011 period.

Big Lots furniture sales comped down low single digits in the quarter, with a stronger performance in upholstery and mattresses, said Fishman in a conference call. The decline came in case goods and RTA, he said. Big Lots believes the holiday season offers the company a strong opportunity in case good and fireplaces, he noted.

As part of an orderly leadership transition, Fishman will continue to serve in his current roles until his successor is appointed.

The board has retained Korn/Ferry International to conduct a search, both internally and externally, for CEO candidates to succeed Fishman.

“In his role as CEO, Steve provided Big Lots with outstanding leadership and financial results during his tenure,” said Philip Mallott, a nine-year member of the company’s board of directors and chairman of the board’s audit committee.  “After nearly 40 years in retail, the board of directors understands and supports his desire to shift his focus and put his family first. We are pleased he has agreed to play a continuing role with the company during the transition and provide his continued services and expertise to the company in a consulting capacity following his retirement.”