Pass the buck, get a penny back. 99 Cents Only Stores sells closeout and regular general merchandise for 99 cents, or less. With about 300 stores, the company sells name-brand and private-label food and beverages (more than 50% os sales), health and beauty aids, household and seasonal goods, hardware, toys, and more. Nearly three-quarters of its stores are in California; other stores are located in Arizona, Nevada, and Texas. The company's Bargain Wholesale unit distributes discounted merchandise to retailers, distributors, and exporters. Founded in 1982, 99 Cents Only Stores was taken private by Ares Management, Canada Pension Plan Investment, and the Gold/Schiffer family in 2012.
Ares Management's $1.6 billion takeover of 99 Cents Only Stores closed in January 2012. Ares has a record of investing in retail companies, including General Nutrition Centers, Floor and Decor Outlets of America, and Simmons Bedding Company. Family members of company chairman David Gold and CEO Eric Schiffer retained an influential, albeit minority stake.
In addition to its growing chain of retail stores, 99 Cents Only Stores sells merchandise through its Bargain Wholesale division at prices generally below normal wholesale levels to retailers, distributors and exporters. Bargain Wholesale accounted for about 3% of the company's total sales in fiscal 2012 (ends March).
Dollar stores outperformed most other retail formats during the deep recession and continue to be top industry performers. Their success has drawn the attention of investors and 99 Cents Only Stores attracted several big name bidders before selling out to Ares and Canada Pension Plan. In fiscal 2012 (ends March) the company's sales topped $1.5 billion, an increase of more than 7% vs. the previous year. Same-store sales also grew by 7% over the same period. The improvement was driven by the opening of new stores following the careful pruning of its retail network toward the highest-performing locations. (It closed many underperforming stores in Texas several years ago.) In 2012, 99 Cents Only Stores added 13 new locations (8 in California). In fiscal 2013 it plans to increase its store count by about 10%, with most of the new stores also slated for California.
The discount retailer aims to attract bargain shoppers by expanding its selection of name-brand merchandise. With the help of long-term vendor relationships, 99 Cents Only Stores has grown its offerings to include food and other consumable goods from such companies as Dole, Kraft, Heinz, Kellogg, and Wrigley. Its stores are significantly larger (approx. 21,000 square feet on average) than its competitors' stores, offering plenty of room for a wider assortment of products. Food has become a key category for 99 Cents Only Stores, driving repeat traffic from customers. – less