Big Lots has hired a new executive role to lead its team of closeout buyers and focus on “procuring outstanding products at exceptional values through unique closeout opportunities,” the company said in a press release last week.
In the newly created position of SVP of extreme value sourcing is Seth Marks, a former executive of the retailer who served as Big Lots’ vice president of merchandising from 2004 to 2007.
Since then, Marks has held sourcing and merchandising roles at subsidiaries of finance and liquidation specialist Hilco Global, and most recently served as chief merchandising officer at Channel Control Merchants.
At Big Lots, Marks “will lead an accelerated strategic deal sourcing initiative focused on procuring outstanding products at exceptional values through unique closeout opportunities, while providing higher recoveries to sellers in need of timely inventory monetization,” the company said.
Marks started in the role on Dec. 4 and reports to directly to Big Lots President and CEO Bruce Thorn.
The hire and new role comes as Big Lots looks to expand what Thorn described in the release as the retailer’s “assortment of extreme bargains.”
“Seth brings almost 30 years' of experience in off-price and closeout sourcing and was with Big Lots at a time when the company was the clear market leader in broadline closeout retail,” Thorn said. “He returns to Big Lots with a wealth of strategic sourcing experience, deep industry relationships, and a merchandising background in extreme bargains.”
Big Lots sources much of its merchandise from closeouts related to production overruns, packaging changes, discontinued products, order cancellations, liquidations, returns and other disruptions in the supply chains of manufacturers as well as from other sourcing options, the company said in its latest 10-K.
Recently the retailer has increased its purchases of what it calls “high quality closeout merchandise” by purchasing directly from manufacturers and other vendors, typically at prices lower than those paid by traditional discount retailers. In 2022, Big Lots bought about 28% of its merchandise at cost directly from overseas vendors. The majority of its products are imported from China.
Sales of closeout items and other bargain products made up more than half of Big Lots’ sales in Q3. “We achieve this by procuring products from over inventoried and distress retailers and vendors, and through new factory direct sourcing partners domestically and overseas,” Thorn told analysts on the company’s Nov. 30 earnings call.
The chief went on to say, “Our next phase is to offer more extreme bargains, whereas a typical bargain would be at a price that's significantly below most retailer’s prices, an extreme bargain would be priced significantly below price leading retailers.”
This is where Marks’ role comes in. In the release, Marks said that Big Lots’ “broad product assortment and coast-to-coast retail footprint will allow us to provide customized best-in-class inventory recovery solutions to our selling partners and true one-of-a-kind deals for customers that no other retailer can provide.”