Top Walmart Food Merchant Joins Big Lots

Mike Troy
Editorial Director
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Big Lots

Amid an ongoing sales surge at Big Lots, the closeout retailer named Jack Pestello as EVP and chief merchandising officer, effective July 27. He fills a position held by Lisa Bachmann who previously announced her plans to retire.

The addition of Pestello to lead Big Lots' merchandising organization is quite significant given how his considerable experience with food retailing and store brands aligns with the closeout retailer's strategic objectives. The move comes as Big Lots is enjoying pandemic fueled sales momentum and the company used the announcement of Pestello’s appointment to affirm guidance that its second quarter comps would increase in the mid-to-high 20% range.

Pestello spent the past seven years in leadership roles at Walmart and has more than 25 years of global retail experience spanning merchandising, sourcing, category and brand development. At Walmart, he most recently served as SVP/GMM for Walmart's grocery business, after having spent five years as senior vice president of private brands. In that role, Big Lots said Pestello was responsible for nearly doubling sales while significantly reducing sourcing costs. He also served as a vice president in Walmart's international division, where he led the global consolidation of supplier partnerships and built an international framework and strategic platform for the private brands business. Prior to Walmart, Pestello served as chief merchandising officer of Woolworths Australia and prior to that he spent 20 years with Daymon Worldwide.

"We're very pleased to welcome Jack to Big Lots and are confident that the strong balance of strategic and executional skills he brings to our team will make an immediate positive impact," said Bruce Thorn, president and CEO of Big Lots. "Jack is a true value retail merchant, with a proven track record in strategic sourcing and implementing merchandising strategies to drive traffic. We look forward to benefiting from his industry expertise and insights as we continue to execute on our strategic initiatives to generate long-term, sustainable growth."

Pestello said that delivering a compelling customer experience and maintaining deep customer connections is more important than ever in today's retail environment.

"I am excited to leverage my brand-building and merchandising experience to further advance Big Lots' momentum, and ensure we continue to provide great products and value to our customers,” Pestello said.

Thorn also thanked outgoing head merchant Lisa Bachmann for her contributions to the operator of 1,404 stores during an 18 year career.

“Lisa will always be part of our Big Lots family, and we wish her every success going forward,” Thorn said.