Ollie’s Raises Profile With Bargain Retailing Expansion

retailers to watch_olliesIn a year that many have labeled as disruptive, retailers large and small in 2017 have worked to develop new initiatives that serve to further merge store and e-commerce operations while also meeting the ever-changing needs of a more fickle and educated consumer base.

While some retailers have struggled to meet current-day challenges, others have taken positive steps forward to establish foundations upon which they hope to boost sales and gain market share in 2018.

HomeWorld’s first annual Retailers to Watch, in the November 6 issue, looks at eight retailers from various channels making big moves to reinforce their futures. Selected by the HomeWorld editorial staff, each of the retailers chosen are taking aim at top-level sales growth in the year ahead with housewares and home at the forefront of their growth strategies.

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet

Total Stores (as of Q2 FY2017): 234

2016 Total Sales (in millions): $890

2016 Total Housewares Sales (in millions): $126

OVERVIEW: Over 35 years, since its founding in Mechanicsburg, PA, Ollie’s Bargain Outlets has grown to 255 stores operating through 20 of the eastern United States. Since Mark Butler became president and CEO in 2003, the store count, then 28, has leaped by over 200 stores. The company has estimated that it could grow its store count to 950. The company plans to open 33 to 35 new stores this fiscal year.

In the company’s last completed fiscal second quarter, Ollie’s total net sales increased 20.5% to $254.6 million. Comparable store sales increased 4.5%, and net income increased 50.1% to $19.7 million.

WHAT TO WATCH: A bargain retailer that might have been little considered a few years ago is gaining more awareness, as the Forecast consumer survey suggested. In the associated survey, Ollie’s emerged as among the favored off-price/closeout stores mentioned by consumers.

With rural roots and arising from an army/navy store tradition, Ollie’s today operates with frequent reference to the company’s old-fashion off-price origins, even to the extent that it cautions that some goods may smell smoky, as it still buys out undamaged merchandise from other retailers that have suffered fires. But the merchandise is so cheap, says Ollie’s, you won’t mind.

In the second quarter, Ollie’s opened 11 new stores, ending that period with 250 stores in 20 states, a store-count increase of 15.7% year over year. By press time, it had already has opened five stores in the third quarter.

As it grows, Ollie’s maintains its light touch to off-price retailing, which stands in contrast with rivals that have invested in more sophisticated merchandising. However, the retro approach may make it attractive to consumers who today look to tradition and authenticity when they try new stores.

2018 Retailers To Watch (click on name for profile)

The Home Depot




Ollie’s Bargain Outlet



West Elm