Big Lots on Tuesday announced that David Campisi is stepping down as president, CEO and a member of its board of directors, after five years as its chief executive. Campisi had been on a leave of absence for medical reasons since December, and has now decided to retire to focus fully on his health and on community service, the company said in a press release.
Lisa Bachmann, executive vice president, chief merchandising and operating officer, and Timothy Johnson, executive vice president, chief administrative officer and CFO, had been working with the company’s executive leadership team and board of directors to carry out his executive responsibilities, and that will continue as the company searches for his replacement, the company said.
Big Lots is in the midst of a branding pivot that has the discount retailer focusing more on furniture sales. The retailer in February tapped Stephen Haffer, previously a longtime executive at furniture retail company American Signature, as senior vice president and chief customer officer.
Big Lots is playing in a key segment of American retail: extreme discount. "'Discount' isn't just a definition, or a tactic," Lee Peterson, executive vice president of brand, strategy and design at WD Partners, wrote in a guest post for Retail Dive. "We see discount as a strategy serving two very real needs. One, the American consumer's psychic desire for a good deal and two, the needs of a growing consumer segment of the U.S. population losing economic ground as real wages stagnate, decreasing buying power."
By amplifying its furniture offering, the retailer may be capitalizing on American consumers' willingness these days to spend on their homes, but it has plenty of competition. The likes of dollar stores (Dollar General, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree), discounters like itself (TJ Maxx, Aldi and Lidl), mass-market retailers like Walmart and Target, marketplaces like Amazon's (and, increasingly, Walmart's too), along with online Wayfair and several upstarts, are all vying for those same dollars.
Headquartered in Columbus, OH, Big Lots operates 1,416 stores in 47 states, down from more than 1,500 in 48 states five years ago. Last month the company was among those looking to acquire some Toys R Us stores as that retailer's bankruptcy auction.
The retailer has hired an executive search firm to assist the board in identifying both internal and external candidates to replace Campisi, who praised Bachmann's and Johnson's teamwork in his absence. "Lisa and T.J. have done an excellent job executing my responsibilities, and will continue to do so while the Board searches for my successor," he said in a statement.