Big Lots: How Asia Buying Offices will Cut Procurement Costs

US discount store chain Big Lots is using Asia based buying offices to find even more value in procurement for retail

The US based discount store chain Big Lots is following a strategy of localised buying offices in areas of Asia in an effort to access ‘closeout deals and other extreme bargains’ for its retail operation. 

Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Big Lots operates more than 1,300 stores in 48 states, as well as an ecommerce store with expanded fulfilment and delivery capabilities.

Big Lots Global Sourcing Strategy

Its extended global procurement and sourcing programme involves international buying offices strategically located in Shanghai, China and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to enhance the company's competitiveness in sourcing products that may not be otherwise available. 

The retailer is expecting the strategy to yield significant operational cost savings beginning in FY2024 and will bring the company's long-time, exclusive third-party agent's sourcing team in-house as Big Lots' Asia sourcing team. The company also believes the programme of international buying offices will also create a stronger platform for overseas procurement and assortment optimisation, as part of Big Lots' strategy to reclaim what it calls its ‘bargain heritage.’

"Global sourcing is key to our ability to add newness and expanded assortment at extreme value prices for our shoppers," says Bruce K. Thorn, President and CEO. "(The strategy) positions us for even greater success in a changing global marketplace as we create more extreme bargains and everyday great values for our customers. We are very pleased to welcome this seasoned sourcing team to the Big Lots family."

Bruce K. Thorn, President and CEO Big Lots

The international buying offices are operating under the leadership of Kevin Kuehl, Senior Vice President and General Merchandising Manager at Big Lots' and are strategically situated close to significant manufacturing facilities and vendor partners in the Asian region. The global strategy is also aiming to help the organisation expand its sourcing network for specific important categories such as furniture, seasonal items, and soft home goods to developing markets in Central and South America, Africa, and other regions.

Big Lots and Extreme Value Sourcing 

The company follows a strategy of looking for closeout deals to deliver procurement value, including a deal for the entire inventory of the award-winning Hearthsong brand of children's toys in a strategic move that further signalled the company's commitment to sourcing extreme bargains for consumers.

"We're reclaiming our bargain heritage, and with this impressive acquisition from Hearthsong, our extreme value sourcing team of closeout buyers is delivering on our promise to own closeouts and bring dynamic, innovative products at unmatched prices to our customers," said Bruce. "It also signals our very real commitment and unique ability to directly source the best deals for our customers in ways that keep them coming back to our stores to uncover bargains, treasures, and extreme values."

Big Lots store (Credit: Big Lots)

"We're pleased to bring this strategic acquisition of Hearthsong toys at never-before-seen closeout prices to our customers and their families this season. Our team's approach to innovative sourcing and the trust of our partners has been a winning combination. Like our price-savvy customers, we're continually on the hunt for new deals and bargains," commented Seth Marks, Senior Vice President of Extreme Value Sourcing . "Whether you're a manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, lender or the professionals that serve them, Big Lots Extreme Value Sourcing Team is here to deliver 'end-user' recoveries at speed."

Seth Marks, Senior Vice President of Extreme Value Sourcing

Read more about how to avoid supply chain disruption and how other retailers are using AI to manage demand.

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