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    Big Lots to Close Up to 170 Stores by End of Year

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Closeout retailer Big Lots, Inc. here said yesterday that it will close up to 170 underperforming stores by the end of the year, as part of its "WIN" strategy to improve financial performance.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Closeout retailer Big Lots, Inc. here said yesterday that it will close up to 170 underperforming stores by the end of the year, as part of its "WIN" strategy to improve financial performance.

    The news came as Big Lots reported a 7.7 percent increase in retail sales for the five weeks ended Oct. 1, compared to the same period last year. Sales for the latest period were $385.3 million.

    Big Lots' diversified product mix typically includes a limited assortment of shelf-stable foods, consisting of a mix of special deals and regularly replenished SKUs. Additionally, many of its stores feature coolers with refrigerated items, as well as freezers with ice cream. The company operates 1,536 stores in 47 states.

    Most of the stores Big Lots plans to close are located in the Midwest, where sales have been marginal.

    The company said earlier this year that it would close about 40 stores in fiscal 2005. An additional 85 closeout stores and 41 standalone furniture stores were targeted for closure following a store-by-store review.

    The company said it expects to take a $60 million charge, or 35 cents per share, stemming from the closings.

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