Fourth-quarter and total year sales at Big Lots increased as company officials pointed to improved merchandise assortments and more disciplined inventory management as key factors to the company growth.
Net sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009 increased 7.0% to $1,463.3 million, compared to $1,366.9 million for the same period in fiscal 2008. Comparable store sales for stores open at least two years at the beginning of the fiscal year increased 5.1% representing our largest fourth-quarter comparable store sales increase in the last 10 years. Net sales for the year were $4,726 million, up from sales of $4,645 million the previous year.
Operating profit for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009 was $173.5 million compared to last year’s operating profit of $133.2 million The 30% improvement in operating profit dollars was the result of strong sales performance, improvement in our gross margin rate and lower expenses as a percentage of sales.
“We were very pleased to deliver our third consecutive year of record operating profit and EPS results and to do so in an economic environment that still has a somewhat challenged consumer,” said Steve Fishman, chairman, president and CEO of Big Lots. “We improved our merchandise assortments and remained disciplined on inventory management. While generating these results, we continued to focus on the long-term fitness of our business by investing in our stores, our IT systems, and our people by recruiting talent across the organization with a particular emphasis in our store operations team.”
Looking ahead, the company is estimated a comparable store sales increase of 4% to 6%.