NEW YORK (Reuters) - Big Lots Inc’s (BIG.N) chief executive said on Wednesday that the closeout retailer is ready to grow and has the potential to expand its store base by roughly one-third to 1,800 locations.
“We’re highly motivated to open more stores at the right price,” CEO Steve Fishman said at a Piper Jaffray conference in New York.
The company, which specializes in sales of excess inventory, currently operates 1,353 stores in 47 states, with the highest concentration of its stores in California, Texas, Florida and Ohio.
“It’s been our opinion that up until recently, the real estate space has been at a premium and the rent market needed to cool down before we were going to be able to open a significant number of stores profitably,” Fishman told the conference.
“We’re starting to see more opportunity to open new stores as the commercial real estate market has started to come back to us. Additionally, since we take secondary and tertiary locations, the number of store closings or bankruptcy proceedings you hear of from other retailers is starting to loosen up the availability of space.”
He said the company has the distribution infrastructure in place to support 1,800 stores.
Big Lots shares rose 2 percent $31.30 in late-morning New York Stock Exchange trading.
Reporting by Nicole Maestri; editing by John Wallace