First Time Loading...

Ollie's Bargain Outlet Holdings Inc
NASDAQ:OLLI

Watchlist Manager
Ollie's Bargain Outlet Holdings Inc Logo
Ollie's Bargain Outlet Holdings Inc
NASDAQ:OLLI
Watchlist
Price: 98.27 USD 0.55% Market Closed
Updated: Jun 23, 2024
Have any thoughts about
Ollie's Bargain Outlet Holdings Inc?
Write Note

Earnings Call Analysis

Q4-2024 Analysis
Ollie's Bargain Outlet Holdings Inc

Ollie's Reports Record Q4 Earnings and Sales

Ollie's celebrated record achievements with $2.1 billion in net sales, a 370 basis point gross margin expansion, and an 80% increase in adjusted earnings per share to $1.23 in Q4 of the prior year. Comparable store sales grew by 3.9%, primarily driven by transactions, as new store growth and the 53rd selling week saw net sales rise 18% to $649 million. Ollie's Army loyalty program saw an increase of 5.9% to 14 million members. Looking ahead to 2024, the company expects total net sales of $2.248 to $2.273 billion, comparable store sales growth of 1% to 2%, and the opening of 50 new stores. Projected gross margin is approximately 40%, with operating income between $243 million to $251 million and adjusted net income per diluted share forecasted at $3.10 to $3.20. Capital expenditures are anticipated to be around $85 million, including $30 million for a new distribution center.

A Strong Finish with Impressive Growth

The company closed its fourth quarter and fiscal year on a high note, delivering results that exceeded expectations. Notably, comparable store sales rose by 3.9%, marking the seventh consecutive quarter of positive growth. A boost in gross margins contributed to a 46% increase in adjusted earnings per share. Highlighting the success, the company crossed $2 billion in net sales for the first time in its 41 years and opened its 500th store, indicating robust expansion and market reach. Adding 3.6 million new members to Ollie's Army, the company's customer loyalty program, the firm now boasts close to 14 million active members. This remarkable growth in customer base underpins the company's strong financial performance and its consistent execution of business strategies.

Solid Quarterly Performance and Expansion

The fourth quarter saw an 18% increase in net sales to $649 million, fuelled by new store growth and a notable comparable store sales increase. Approximately 60% of product categories showed positive sales growth, with food, seasonal, candy, housewares, and sporting goods leading the performance. Alongside revenue growth, the company's membership program grew by 5.9% to 14 million members, with these loyal shoppers contributing to over 80% of total sales. The quarter also included the opening of 7 new stores, ending with a count of 512 stores across 30 states. Gross margins saw a pleasing rise to 40.5%, and operating income surged by 44.3% to $98 million. With prudent capital management, the company ended the quarter with a robust cash position and made significant share repurchases, reinforcing its commitment to shareholder value.

Optimistic Outlook and Strategic Insights for 2024

Looking ahead to 2024, the company sets forth a confident outlook with projected net sales of $2.248 to $2.273 billion and anticipates 1% to 2% growth in comparable store sales. They plan to continue their expansion by opening 50 new stores and expect to maintain a gross margin of approximately 40%. These targets are computed on a 52-week fiscal year as opposed to the 53 weeks in the previous year. For the quarterly cadence, the company foresees stronger performance in the first and last quarters of the year with a particular focus on improving gross margins in the first half. The company also plans to invest significantly in capital expenditures, primarily directed toward new store developments and completing their new distribution center, ensuring capacity for future growth. A key takeaway for investors is the well-managed financial discipline and the continuation of a strategic growth trajectory, as evidenced by the planned allocation of resources and careful monitoring of market conditions.

Earnings Call Transcript

Earnings Call Transcript
2024-Q4

from 0
Operator

Good morning, and welcome to Ollie's Bargain Outlet Holdings to discuss financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2023. [Operator Instructions]

Please be advised that this call is being recorded and the reproduction of this call in whole or in part is not permitted without express written authorization of Ollie's.

Joining us on today's call from Ollie's management are John Swygert, President and Chief Executive Officer; Eric van der Valk, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer; and Robert Helm, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

Certain comments made today may constitute forward-looking statements and are made pursuant to and within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 as amended. Such forward-looking statements are subject to both known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from such statements. Those risks and uncertainties are described in our annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q on file with the SEC and earnings press release. Forward-looking statements made today are as of the date of this call, and we do not undertake any obligation to update these statements.

On today's call, the company will also be referring to certain non-GAAP financial measures. Reconciliation of those most closely comparable GAAP financial measures to non-GAAP financial measures are included in our earnings press release.

With that said, I'll turn the program over to Mr. Swygert. Please go ahead, sir.

J
John Swygert
executive

Thank you, and good morning, everyone. We appreciate you joining our call today. We had a strong fourth quarter and fiscal year. For the fourth quarter, we delivered better-than-expected top and bottom line results. Comparable store sales increased 3.9%, our seventh consecutive quarter of positive comps. Our comp store sales growth was broad-based with over 60% of our product categories comping positive in the quarter.

In addition to the solid comp store sales growth, we also delivered very strong margin growth. Gross margin increased 290 basis points to 40.5%, which in turn helped us deliver a 46% increase in adjusted earnings per share.

The fourth quarter capped off a great year for Ollie's. Fiscal 2023 marked a return to the strong financial performance and consistent execution on our hallmark and Ollie's. We are proud of our team's achievements this past year, which included a number of records and milestones.

In fiscal 2023, we generated record net sales and crossed the $2 billion mark for the first time in our 41-year history. We opened our 500th store and entered our 30th state. We returned to our long-term algo gross margin target of 40% in the second half of the year. We added a record 3.6 million new Ollie's Army members and grew to almost 14 million active members strong. We beat and raised our full year sales and earnings estimates in all 4 quarters. And most importantly, we returned to a pattern of consistent execution and strong financial results.

We feel very good about the underlying trends in our business and our focus on long-term growth. We recently completed our latest third-party real estate feasibility study, which utilizes demographic data and density across a changing U.S. landscape. The migration trend out of larger metropolitan markets into rural and suburban areas over the past few years is a positive trend for Ollie's, and our analysis supports a new long-term target of 1,300 stores, up from a previous 1,050.

Everyone loves to bargain. And as consumers seek value, we are positioned to win. We sell good stuff cheap, high-quality name brand products that prices typically 20% to 70% below the fancy stores. Since our founding over 41 years ago, we have built our model around closeouts and bargains. In doing so, we have developed deep relationships throughout the vendor community, built an experienced team of talented buyers and set up our distribution network to handle deals of all shapes and sizes in a cost effective and agile manner and developed a trusted and loyal customer following.

Today, consumers are looking for bargains, and manufacturers are looking for trusted partners who can help them manage their inventory and supply chains. Larger retailers are being supplied by larger manufacturers, and this lead to larger orders and product flow. At the same time, manufacturers are constantly developing and introducing new products, new packaging and working around endless changes and disruptions to the marketplace and supply chain. This is driving strong growth in the closeout market.

We are the king of closeouts, and we are built for this environment. Nobody has our experience, size, scale and credibility in the closeout market. With over 41-year history and extensive relationships, manufacturers know we are a trusted and reliable partner for excess and closeout products. As a result, our purchasing power is growing, and we are becoming more and more meaningful to the vendor community.

We have made significant investments to enhance execution and drive productivity. We have invested in wages across the entire company, our distribution centers, our stores, the field management teams and store support center. We have enhanced major operational teams such as the supply chain, loss prevention, real estate and marketing, expanded our distribution capabilities, implemented new technology and systems initiated a store remodel program and retooled our marketing campaigns and expanded our digital capabilities.

Clearly, these investments are paying off. Our customer base is expanding, our productivity levels are increasing and our costs are well under control. In short, we are executing well and delivering strong and consistent financial results.

Now let me turn the call over to Eric.

E
Eric van der Valk
executive

Thanks, John, and good morning, everyone.

Our fourth quarter and fiscal year results reflect the strength of our deals, the hard work and commitment of our team and our execution across the organization. Process improvements and investments we have made in our people, supply chain, stores and marketing continue to drive better productivity and strong results.

Our growth is focused on a number of core initiatives, offering amazing deals, expanding our reach through new store openings, digital marketing and Ollie's Army, leveraging investments to drive operating efficiencies and execution.

In the fourth quarter, we opened 7 new stores and hit our target of 45 new store openings for the fiscal year. The 30-store openings in the back half of the year was a new record. We continue to pursue a contiguous growth real estate strategy that leverages brand awareness, marketing reach and our supply chain. With the opening of our 500th store in Iowa City, we now operate in 30 states.

In fiscal 2024, we are targeting to open approximately 50 new stores with a good portion of these in existing markets and the Midwest. In addition to opening new stores, we continue to upgrade our existing stores through our remodel program. Over 10% of our store base has now been remodeled, and we are applying our learnings to both existing stores and new store designs.

[Technical Difficulty]

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, please stand by, your program will resume momentarily. Ladies and gentlemen, Are you able to hear us?

U
Unknown Executive

Yes, I can hear you now.

Operator

All right. Great. Yes, you may proceed.

U
Unknown Executive

Again, everybody, we apologize for the technical difficulties. We're going to resume the Ollie's conference call with Eric starting back in on his portion. Thank you, everybody.

E
Eric van der Valk
executive

All right. Thank you, John Rouleau - thank you, John Swygert.

Good morning, everyone. Our fourth quarter and fiscal year results reflect the strength of our deals, the hard work and commitment of our team and the execution across the organization. Process improvements and investments we have made in our people, supply chain, stores and marketing continue to drive better productivity and strong results. Our growth is focused on a number of core initiatives: offering amazing deals, expanding our reach through new store openings, digital marketing and Ollie's Army and leveraging investments to drive operating efficiencies and execution.

In the fourth quarter, we opened 7 new stores and hit our target of 45 new store openings for the fiscal year. The 30-store openings in the back half of the year was a new record. We continue to pursue a contiguous growth real estate strategy that leverages brand awareness, marketing reach and our supply chain. With the opening of our 500th store in Iowa City, we now operate in 30 states.

In fiscal 2024, we are targeting to open approximately 50 new stores with a good portion of these in existing markets and the Midwest. In addition to opening new stores, we continue to upgrade our existing stores through our remodel program. Over 10% of our store base has now been remodeled, and we are applying our learnings to both existing stores and new store design.

Our new distribution center in Illinois will support our continued growth in the Midwest and is on track to start up full operations in the second half of this year. Our fourth distribution center expands our capacity to service an additional 150 to 175 stores. When combining this with investments we've made over the past year, we will have the ability to service up to 750 stores.

On the marketing front, we continue to shift advertising dollars into various digital and social media platforms, including influencers across TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. For Black Friday and Christmas, we tested a series of video ad formats that generated millions of views and over 1 billion impressions in Google channels, including YouTube.

Our digital flyer registered over 300 million impressions with Facebook and Instagram users. Our expanded digital marketing program is helping us to reach new and younger customers and keeping Ollie's the birthplace of bargains, top of mind with existing customers.

Our growing customer base is reflected in our Ollie's Army numbers. As John mentioned, we had a record year in customer additions with over 3.6 million customers added to Ollie's Army this year alone. In line with the growth in the younger customer demographic we are attracting, we are also seeing growth in younger customers joining Ollie's Army.

Lastly, we continue to benefit from the trade-down effect we have experienced over the last several quarters and are seeing strong retention from this customer cohort. Touching on supply chain for a moment, our annual international carrier contracts are renegotiated every May. This is an area where we have made significant improvements over the past few years. We have overhauled our team, brought in new systems to improve visibility and execution, and increased the number of direct carrier relationships.

Most importantly, we have leveraged our volume to negotiate favorable annual contracts in terms. Now almost 90% of our foreign shipping requirements are covered under contract. As a result, we have very little exposure to the spot market. As a reminder, around 20% of our overall purchases are imports. In addition, we have not seen any meaningful impact from the shipping disruptions through the Suez Canal and our import costs remain well controlled.

Like other retailers, we don't know what could happen to import tariffs as a result of the upcoming presidential election, but do want to remind everyone that we negotiate pricing fluidly based on prices in the marketplace on a relatively short-term basis. If prices were to increase from the implementation of new tariffs, we would adjust our buying accordingly and offer the same compelling value to our customers while delivering margin within our targeted parameters.

We continue to watch the real estate market closely. While the market is a bit tight at the moment, we think this could start to loosen up with some of the more recent and potentially forthcoming store closures and bankruptcies. The strength of our business model and particularly our balance sheet, provides us with the positioning to seize this opportunity as it arises.

Before I turn the call over to Rob, I would like to take a moment to thank our incredible team of associates for value obsessed and committed to executing the different areas across our business day in, day out. John alluded to the consistent results we delivered this quarter, and this is only possible when our entire team is working together to execute the business.

Rob?

R
Robert Helm
executive

Thanks, Eric, and good morning, everyone. We're extremely pleased with our fourth quarter and full year results, which came in ahead of our expectations, driven by strong sales growth and healthy margin expansion.

Our fourth quarter adjusted earnings per share was a new record number for Ollie's. For the year, we achieved a record $2.1 billion in net sales, expanded gross margin by 370 basis points and increased adjusted earnings per share by 80%.

In the fourth quarter, net sales increased 18% to $649 million, driven by new store growth, comparable store sales growth and the 53rd selling week. Our comparable store sales increased 3.9% and was driven primarily by transactions.

Our category strength was broad-based with over 60% of our product categories comping positive. Our best-performing categories were food, seasonal, candy, housewares and sporting goods. Finally, the 53rd selling week added approximately $34 million to net sales in the quarter.

Ollie's Army increased 5.9% to 14 million members, and sales to our members represented over 80% of total sales. As both John and Eric mentioned, we added a record 3.6 million members in 2023, and the number of nonactive members purging from Ollie's Army is moderating. This should bode well for net member growth going forward.

During the quarter, we opened 7 new stores, ending with 512 stores in 30 states, an increase of 9.4% year-over-year. The timing of our new store openings did slightly impact new store productivity in the quarter, but our new stores continue to ramp and perform in line with our expectations and pro forma models.

Gross margin improved 290 basis points to 40.5% compared to last year, primarily driven by favorable supply chain costs and a higher merchandise margin driven by lower strength. SG&A expenses as a percentage of net sales increased 30 basis points to 24.1% due to higher incentive compensation, partially offset by leverage on fixed expenses on the increase in net sales.

Operating income increased 44.3% to $98 million, and operating margin increased 270 basis points to 15% in the quarter. Adjusted net income increased 45.5% to $76 million, and adjusted earnings per share was $1.23 compared to $0.84 last year.

Adjusted EBITDA increased 43.2% to $111 million, and adjusted EBITDA margin increased 300 basis points to 17% for the quarter.

Turning to the balance sheet. Our cash position remains strong with $353 million between cash on hand and short-term investments and no outstanding borrowings under our revolving credit facility, which we extended for another 5 years at favorable economics to the current market conditions.

For the full year, we generated $254 million in cash from operations. Inventory increased 7.5% to $506 million, primarily driven by new store growth, partially offset by the impact of lower capitalized freight costs.

Capital expenditures totaled $43 million for the quarter and were primarily for the development of new stores, the remodeling of existing stores and the construction of our new distribution center in Illinois.

During the quarter, we invested $13 million to repurchase shares of our common stock. We repurchased $53 million during the year and have $86 million remaining on our current share repurchase program authorization. We remain committed to returning capital to our investors through share repurchases, while balancing our strategic growth opportunities and working capital needs.

Turning to our outlook for 2024. As John mentioned, we continue to benefit from a strong closeout market as well as improved execution across many facets of our business. While we entered the year with nice momentum, we always initially planned a year around our long-term algo of 1% to 2% positive comp growth for purposes of setting our cost structure and leverage points.

With that framework in place, for the full year, which is a 52-week year compared to 53 weeks in 2023, we expect total net sales of $2.248 billion to $2.273 billion; comparable store sales growth of 1% to 2%; the opening of 50 new stores left 2 closures where we chose not to renew; gross margin of approximately 40%; operating income of $243 million to $251 million; adjusted net income of $192 million to $198 million; and adjusted net income per diluted share of $3.10 to $3.20; an annual effective tax rate of 25%, which excludes the tax benefits related to stock-based compensation; diluted weighted average shares outstanding of approximately $62 million; and lastly, capital expenditures of approximately $85 million, including approximately $30 million for the completion of our distribution center in Princeton, Illinois.

Now let me provide some color on how we're thinking about quarterly comps and store opening cadence as well as a few other numbers to help with your models. With our continued momentum, we expect to deliver Q1 comps slightly above the high end of our annual guidance range. For Q2, we are planning comps to the midpoint of our annual guidance range. For Q3, we anticipate comp sales to be flat due to a change related to the calendar shift from the 53rd week. And as a result of the shift, we would expect Q4 comps to be slightly above the high end of our annual guidance range.

For new stores, we're modeling approximately 30% of our openings in the first half and 70% of our openings in the second half. Related to store openings, we expect preopening expenses, including expenses associated with our remodel program, to be approximately $17 million for the year.

In terms of gross margin, we anticipate most of our improvements to occur in the first half of the year as we lap our stronger results in the second half of the year. We're planning for depreciation and amortization expense of approximately $42 million, which includes $11 million that runs through cost of goods sold. And lastly, we expect net interest income of approximately $13 million, which considers a higher average cash balance for the year, partially offset by the impact of the potential for lower interest rates in the back half of the year.

Now let me turn the call back over to John.

J
John Swygert
executive

Thanks, Rob. Operating a closeout retail business is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of dedicated team members who are passionate about selling good stuff cheap to execute our model. We know the holiday season was a very busy time for our associates this year, and I want to congratulate our team for the way they managed the business and delivered results. I am very proud of their performance this past quarter and year.

As we say, we are Ollie's! That concludes our prepared remarks, and we are now happy to take your questions. Operator?

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from the line of Brad Thomas from KeyBanc Capital Markets.

B
Bradley Thomas
analyst

Congrats on a strong 2023. John, I just wanted to circle back on a question that we've been asking and investors have been asking really for the past year, as you've started to see this strong momentum in your business, can you talk a little bit more about the line of sight on sourcing and your confidence that you can comp the comp as we move here through 2024?

J
John Swygert
executive

Yes, Brad, this is a question we've gotten for a long period of time. With regards -- we've been doing this for 41 years. The relations we've built over that time period are very, very strong. Closeout -- the closeout market is a very large market. As we said before, when I first started talking about is about an $80 billion market; now it's probably closer to $115 billion market. So -- and we just surpassed the $2 billion sales number for this year. So there's plenty of excess inventory out in the marketplace.

So that does not bother us or the company to be able to comp the comp or find their source deals. The deal flows are very, very strong and have been strong, and they'll continue to be strong. So that doesn't bother us from that perspective.

Line of sight has always been the major question because we're buying closeouts. We're not manufacturing goods. So we don't see too far out. I can't tell you what we're going to buy in June and July. But when you do -- when you live in this every day, you do have and feel the momentum that's out there and the surplus is sitting in the marketplace. So with our continued size and scale, we've become much, much more meaningful and built these relations with the manufacturers, and we believe we're positioned to continue to deliver the results, and we're not afraid of that.

B
Bradley Thomas
analyst

That's very helpful, John. And as a related follow-up, it's encouraging to see the increased long-term store target, can you talk a little bit more about the work on the sourcing side and the merchandising side that goes into your confidence in supporting that increased store base?

J
John Swygert
executive

Yes. As we've talked about for a long time, Brad, the -- we got this question at 100 stores. We have this question at 200 stores. The deals keep getting bigger and bigger, and our relationships with the direct manufactures keeping in bigger and bigger. And as we scale and we get more coverage of the United States, the facilities that they operate in continue to be a natural fit for us. So the store count and I think people always get worried about other folks have been in the closeout industry, and they've not succeeded over many years. This is all we've done. We've never gone away from our knitting. This is what we've done for 41 years. This is all our buyers focus on each and every day.

So we're committed to closeouts. It's definitely an inconvenience business. But like we said, this is something that we live and breathe every day. And this doesn't bother us from a scale perspective. We've talked about in the past as we scale up our store base to close us become a slightly smaller percentage of the overall purchase, sure, it does. I don't think the customer ever notices that, and I do think our merchants will continue to push and deliver closeouts. So I never see us getting below a 50% closeout in our total business. I just think there's enough abundance out there for us to be continuing to drive that and drive that shopping experience for our customers.

E
Eric van der Valk
executive

Brad, this is Eric. I'll just add on a comment that this is a fragmented marketplace, the closeout business, and our size is a differentiator, a very important differentiator as we continue to grow and also highlight that we have a very strong balance sheet, which is another piece that makes a stand apart from others that are in this business.

Operator

And our next question comes from the line of Kate McShane from Goldman Sachs.

K
Katharine McShane
analyst

We wondered what impact you might be seeing. It sounds like the guide on Q1 same-store sales is pretty solid, but just what impact you might be seeing as the tax refund here seem to be a little bit slower coming in versus last year and if it's having any kind of impact on you?

R
Robert Helm
executive

Kate, this is Rob. We -- the tax refund piece has been widely reported, and it's something certainly that we're tracking. Obviously, more liquidity for our customers in their wallets is good for business, good for all retailers. To date, we haven't really seen it have a significant impact coming off of last year. I think the IRS is reported they're about a week behind but average refunds that are going into customers' hands are bigger. So net-net, I would say, not much of an impact so far.

K
Katharine McShane
analyst

Okay. And then our second question was just on remodels. Can you remind us again the lift that you get from the remodels and what the cadence in 2024 will look like?

E
Eric van der Valk
executive

Kate, it's Eric. We expect a mid-single-digit lift from remodels. We're repositioning the program a bit going forward. So we'll talk about full remodels where we're reorganizing the store, potentially and selling racetracks, reflowing the stores, changing adjacencies, et cetera. We expect that -- we expect to remodel around 20 stores. We're also touching at least 30 stores with some degree of updating, which includes in selling front-end Qs, [ wayfinding ] and some other adjustments.

So it's really -- going forward, we're learning from our experience in the remodel program, what gets us the biggest return and what improves the customer experience the most, and we're investing in those elements in more sources as we move forward.

Operator

And our next question comes from the line of Peter Keith from Piper Sandler.

P
Peter Keith
analyst

Congrats from me as well, has a great year. Looking at the new store target of 1,300, I was curious how you're thinking about annual store growth going forward. I believe the target has been 50 to 55 per year. Is that how we should still kind of model out longer-term unit growth on an annual basis?

E
Eric van der Valk
executive

Peter, it's Eric. Yes, we built our infrastructure to open 50 to 55 stores a year as well as executing on the remodel program. Just to remind everyone, in 2022, we opened 40 stores. In '23, we committed to 45, opened 45 and we're committing to 50 in '24. So you can see a cadence to growing the number of stores that we're opening.

That being said, we have a disciplined approach to growth. We will not risk execution. There is a lot of disruption in the market, which is creating opportunities on the real estate side, and we feel very good about the pipeline looking out into future years, '25 and '26. With this new real estate study in hand, we're evaluating what would be required to accelerate growth. Our supply chain opening the Illinois warehouse DC is a big leap forward and our ability to scale. The pipeline, of course, of real estate, store leadership, store support teams, and we'll get back to you in a few quarters with what that looks like for the out years.

P
Peter Keith
analyst

Okay, very helpful and interesting. Secondly, I did want to ask about tariffs. You mentioned it about 20% of products or maybe 20% of sales are imported. And I guess what's the philosophy just thinking ahead if tariffs do get implemented, do you think about diversifying away from China? Or on the other hand, I was thinking about maybe other companies are diversifying away and that, therefore, creates more closeout opportunities with Chinese factories and suppliers. So just curious how you're thinking about maybe the approach to China sourcing on a multiyear basis here?

E
Eric van der Valk
executive

Sure, Peter. It's Eric again. We do think about both elements of your question. We think about diversifying and derisking around China with that 20% that is direct. We also think about the opportunities it creates as we move into a period that may be somewhat disruptive.

All that being said, our business is primarily closeout oriented and tariffs will have an impact on everything that -- not everything, but a percentage that comes out of China potentially across multiple categories of business. And we're not concerned about it because of what I said in my opening remarks, from a pricing standpoint, we're very fluid as we're buying closeouts that may, over time, be impacted by increasing tariffs. We're pricing in the marketplace. And typically, what's happened because we've been through this a couple of times in the past is prices are increased across various competitors and we price up accordingly and ensure that we can deliver margins. So we feel good about it. We're not losing sleep about tariffs.

J
John Swygert
executive

Yes. Peter, I'll add a little bit to that in a different way. But we would say that we're a price follower, not a price setter. So as the market moves, we move accordingly, and we keep that same value proposition. So whether the tariffs come in or out or whether people move business from China to another country, we're just following what the market is doing. So we're in a very good position. And also, to your point, that -- we call them stock loss, but closeouts, it could be in China if things don't move out of there are opportunities for us to be able to buy product and bring into the country. So we believe we're well positioned for this. And as we always say, when any time there's a disruption, we do normally win at that. So this is something that could also play in our hand.

Operator

And our next question comes from the line of Edward Kelly from Wells Fargo.

E
Edward Kelly
analyst

I wanted to maybe a promotional cadence for the year and how you're thinking about any change there? Like I noticed there was an earlier March flyer that I think shifted back. Obviously, you have a harder -- pretty hard like Q2, Q3 compare. I'm not sure if you're thinking about anything differently there or in Ollie's. Just how should we think about promotional cadence? You did mention some movement around the comp by quarter. So just maybe a little bit more color there?

J
John Swygert
executive

Yes. Ed, I'll answer it and then maybe Eric or Rob will add into it. But with regards to promotional calendar, it's pretty much the same as last year. We are experiencing a shift from Q3 to Q4 just naturally because of the 53rd week occurring and how the weeks fall, and then obviously, the compressed holiday selling period from Thanksgiving to Christmas this year. But the cadence is right now planned to be pretty comparable to last year, and we feel very comfortable we're sitting today.

E
Edward Kelly
analyst

And just maybe a follow-up to this question around the comparison. John, how are you thinking about the mix of the product that you think you'll be buying? So you think about last year, are you going to lap this [ cold ] and flow out, which I'm sure was very good. I don't know if you're anticipating a consumable versus gen merge, right, like how you're looking at that. Maybe that would be helpful.

And then, Eric, I just want to ask you one quick question on the store opening cadence. It looks like Q1 might be pretty light based upon what's on the website. So any color on Q1 openings?

J
John Swygert
executive

With regards to the overall, Ed, I won't say too much about deals and how we're going to comp the comp from prior year from a competition perspective. But we are and we feel like we're well positioned, and we'll be able to annualize those special deals we had last year that are out there. So we feel well positioned. I can't say much more about it, but the deal flow is strong enough that we feel good.

We're not -- obviously, consumables is a leading category for, I think, a lot of retailers out there. We're not much different. I think food and candy is working very, very well for us. And obviously, the consumable categories that we have in HBA and Housewares is obviously a very strong performer, and we're well positioned there. The deal -- the outsized deals which really put us over the top, and I think we're positioned here for this first, second quarter without a doubt.

R
Robert Helm
executive

And Ed, from a store cadence perspective, we're opening 5 in the first quarter. we are planning out of the 2 closures, 1 of the closures that is planned to occur in the first quarter, but that could push out as we work through the turnover requirements with the landlord.

E
Eric van der Valk
executive

Yes. And Ed, just to comment generally about the cadence. It is back-half loaded, very similar to last year. And that really reflects the momentum in the pipeline as we move through last year. We want to get to a point where we're not a stack half loaded, we know we can execute the back half loaded plan based on what happened in '23. So we have the confidence that we'll execute. And as we look out in '25, we're going to work hard to get a better balance.

Operator

And our next question comes from the line of Jeremy Hamblin from Craig-Hallum Capital Group.

J
Jeremy Hamblin
analyst

Congrats on the strong results. I wanted to get into your Q4 gross margins, I think, may have been a record for Q4, certainly. And you noted in the commentary that part of that was related to lower shrink year-over-year, some of it was improved product margins, of course, lower freight. But I wanted to dive in a little bit in terms of thinking about that impact on a go-forward basis. One, do you feel like your shrink you now have under control? I know that you've noted in the past that it's a real subset of your stores, maybe 20% or less that are causing 80% of the issues. So Eric, do you feel like that is in a much better spot? And any other commentary on just kind of loss prevention that would help? And then should we be thinking about Q4 gross margins as potentially a little bit higher than what they've been in the past?

R
Robert Helm
executive

Thank you. This is Rob. From a Q4 gross margin perspective, we were very pleased with our performance. It was primarily supply chain fueled. We feel that the supply chain came in at, I think it was in the range of 9% for the fourth quarter. That's pretty consistent with where we thought it was going to be, maybe slightly better. And we'll be able to improve upon that for next year, planning supply chain costs for the full year in the range of say 9%.

From a shrink perspective, shrink was a nice contributor to our Q4 gross margin. We started to see some improvement in shrink in the second half of the year. As we've discussed in the past, shrink is a trailing indicator. We count each one of our stores annually. So we only get a snapshot of how shrink is performing after those counts. And it's nice to see that some of the additional efforts and resources we put against it have started to make some progress.

That being said, we still are not back to where we were in the past from a shrink perspective, and we still have more work to do. But given our -- where we landed Q4 in terms of gross margin, we're very confident with our 40% gross margin guide for next year.

E
Eric van der Valk
executive

Jeremy, just to add a little bit more on shrink, as Rob indicated, our heightened focus on shrink over the past year, we did upgrade the team in various ways. We're much more focused on internal theft in addition to external theft. And we've deployed a disproportionate amount of our resource on the 20% you referred to that's creating kind of most of our issue. And we would never say with 100% confidence that it's totally under control as it pertains to shrink but we feel pretty good about heading into '24.

J
John Swygert
executive

Jeremy, this is John. Just one last addition on margin. Just so no one gets ahead of us because we did have a very strong Q4, we're working to get back to a 40% gross margin from a long-term algo for 2024. So I just want to make sure no one runs away from that number. It's not that easy to always hit exactly where we're trying to hit for the quarter with the changing costs we had and the overall buying environment we've been in, I still would ask everyone to stick with us on the 40% gross margin for 2024 to a minimum.

J
Jeremy Hamblin
analyst

Understood. And then just one other. The new -- I wanted to get an update on the new DC in Illinois and progress on the York expansion and just understand the potential financial impact of that this year, timing on when you may have any drag related to that opening of the new DC in Illinois.

E
Eric van der Valk
executive

Jeremy, it's Eric. I'll take the first part of the question. We are on track, on time to begin full operations in Q3 of this year. We actually began receiving in that building in Q2, all is going well. We have confidence that the start-up will be successful. So feeling very good about this in this moment.

R
Robert Helm
executive

From a financial impact perspective, we used to call the opening of a new DC, say, 20 basis points drag on gross margin. I would say, given our bigger size, I would call that closer to 10 basis points now, but that's contemplated in our guidance in arriving at the 40% gross margin target.

The other piece of it is there is an elevated depreciation that is alongside the York expansion and the Princeton distribution center, which is also contemplated in our guidance.

E
Eric van der Valk
executive

I didn't comment, Jeremy. You asked me about York, so far behind me now, I'm not really thinking about it. We completed that expansion in the middle of 2023 and all is going well, successful throughputs where we need it to be. We have the expanded space, the ability to service additional stores.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] And our next question comes from the line of Eric Cohen from Gordon Haskett.

E
Eric Cohen
analyst

Congrats on a nice quarter. I want to ask about the raised store target. The incremental 250 stores, so where are you finding the additional opportunity? Is it in new markets that you didn't think you could previously enter or great opportunity filling in existing markets? And then do you anticipate that these stores will have a similar store productivity and profitability as the existing base?

R
Robert Helm
executive

I'll take that part of the question, it's Rob. From a new target perspective, I would say that there was certainly a bit of new markets in terms of the markets that came into our study in terms of demographics and population density. The way that we think about it in where we sit today in our 512 store base versus our 1,300 target in the future, about 1/3 of it is a backfill opportunity into existing markets. 2/3 of the remaining stores that we're going to open are in new markets.

From the other aspect to your question in terms of the model, we've found over 41 years that this model is exceptionally profitable and predictable in every market that we open and portable. So we have no doubts that we'll be as profitable in some of these other markets as we open as we are in our existing markets.

E
Eric van der Valk
executive

Yes. Eric, just to add, it's Eric, just to add a little more color. As we said in our opening remarks, the urban sprawl that it was accelerated through COVID is certainly helping point suburban and rural communities. But also in looking at our customer base, it's become more affluent and younger, and that's also affecting the markets that we believe will be successful as we move forward and the growth, the 250 store growth to our long-term target.

E
Eric Cohen
analyst

Great. And then you've talked about benefiting from trade down in recent quarters. Can you just discuss what the customer demographic mix looks like today versus a couple of years ago? And whether or not this -- the incremental trade on customers you've got is sustainable? And then does adding higher income consumers help you offer price products at higher prices that maybe previously couldn't?

E
Eric van der Valk
executive

Sure. Eric, it's Eric again. We're seeing strength -- trade-down strength above $100,000 income, and we're seeing especially some strength above $150,000. And from what we've seen to date now over several quarters, retention does look good. Lower income customers are relatively stable. We under-indexed the lower income consistently over the years. If you remember, we're -- we don't take staff and we're more discretionary assortment versus some others out there.

R
Robert Helm
executive

The other dynamic, this is Rob, I would add is that as we've deepened our mix into consumables, it's a high frequency, high visit business for us and typically a repeat shopper. So we feel that once we have you as an ongoing consumable shopper, those consumable shoppers are much more loyal, visit more often and are retained for a much longer period of time. So we're pretty confident that the customer growth we've seen for last year will be benefiting from it for the next couple of years.

Operator

And our next question comes from the line of Matthew Boss from JPMorgan.

Matthew Boss
analyst

John, could you just elaborate on trends you've seen post-holiday going back and to the momentum that you cited? And then on the expanded vendor relationships and scale, where do you see the most opportunity across categories in the box moving forward?

J
John Swygert
executive

Yes. Matt, with regards to the trends post-holiday, we've been -- and we've said it a couple of times today, we have been very consistent. Q4 was a very consistent quarter for us, and we continue to come out of the gate and everything is just we've been executing and delivering consistent results. So we're not seeing a big change in our overall momentum in the business. So we're excited with what we're doing here.

So with regards to vendor relationships and expansion, it's not an expansion fully on new vendors. There's the increased expansion on existing vendors as well. So with regards to categories, we're seeing a pretty broad-based right now. Obviously, with whatever is presented to us in the categories we sell, which is a very wide variety of basic hard goods, we're seeing a lot of mix coming through and a lot of building on existing relationships that are getting more categories to come in as well. So it's not something that I specifically call out. We're adding new vendors every day, but the big vendors are the ones who drive a lot for us. So we're very excited what we're seeing out there.

Matthew Boss
analyst

That's great. And then, Rob, larger picture, help us to think about bottom line flow-through opportunity maybe relative to the roughly 11% operating margin guide for this year. If comps were to come in above the 1% to 2% plan, just thinking about gross margin relative to SG&A opportunity.

R
Robert Helm
executive

Sure. So I think over time, there's certainly opportunity for us to continue to improve on our operating margin. I think gross margin, John hit the nail on the head. We're planning a 40 for next year. We haven't been at 40 for several years now. We're going to see how that stabilizes from a pricing and customer perspective and then evaluate any movement from there in out years potentially.

From a leverage point perspective, you'd expect 10 basis points of leverage on SG&A as we comp above 2%. So given the strong closeout environment and where we're at, we're planning 1 to 2, which has benefited us over time because we get leverage as we do outsized comps. We're not going to shut the registers off. So should we deliver a higher comp, we'll certainly be able to leverage faster and get back to our longer-term operating margin highs.

Operator

And our next question comes from the line of Scot Ciccarelli from Truist.

S
Scot Ciccarelli
analyst

If you look at SG&A per store, you guys -- if you look at SG&A per store, you're essentially at 2020 levels and really only up modestly from 2019 even with this year's increases. That's a pretty stark contrast on your expense inflation versus what we've seen from most other retailers. And look, you guys have always run a tight ship. But what would you attribute that minimal SG&A growth to? And how should we think about that on a go-forward basis?

R
Robert Helm
executive

We don't necessarily look at it on an average store basis because we are opening boxes that are different size. So the expense leverage kind of moves with that or expense dollars for that matter moves with that. We are hard at work on expense leverage. We are making the necessary investments we have to make in terms of payroll across all aspects of our business, the distribution center and the stores. And the goal of that investment is to get improved efficiency and productivity. And that's what we're seeing come to bear in our results for this year and coming to bear in our guidance for next year.

S
Scot Ciccarelli
analyst

And is there anything we should be aware of in terms of wage changes for '24, potentially even '25, given what you know now?

R
Robert Helm
executive

No changes at this time.

Operator

And our next question comes from the line of Simeon Gutman from Morgan Stanley.

S
Simeon Gutman
analyst

Sorry for the background noise. I know it's practiced to not guide any different than the way you did for the comp, 1 to 2. I just -- I'm asking because the last year or so has been usually good for closeouts. Is there any scenario or is there anything you see out there why this business couldn't comp stronger? Is there any lapping a tough closeout environment? But I know John talked about it being pretty strong.

J
John Swygert
executive

Yes, Simeon, this is John. I would tell you there's no structural reason we couldn't comp stronger. We feel very good where we're positioned right now. We build our model on the 1 to 2. We always have that funny saying where we don't turn the registers off when we hit a number. So we're going to continue to try to drive deal flow remains strong. Our merchants are confident. So there's really nothing holding us back. We're going up against some pretty good numbers. So I don't think you see outsized comps like you did this year. But I think we have opportunity, and we can get it, we'll get it, and we'll give the flow-through to the investors.

S
Simeon Gutman
analyst

And then a quick follow-up, thinking about the buying. One of the closeout grocers we follow, they've been seeing much higher margins, and we're not clear if that's on the buying or their markup. Have you seen any big step changes in categories over time? Is that usual? And could that happen for you going forward given the scale keeps getting better?

J
John Swygert
executive

So we haven't seen any step changes in the grocery categories or what we call the food category or candy category. There's not been a large expansion in that area that we've seen at all. And that could be us pushing value through to our consumers for loyalty and repeat business, but nothing real big there. But we do see, Simeon, and we have seen over the last couple of years, there are some certain deals or specific categories, we can have an outsized margin on the buy and still give the customer a great value and what we can, we do. .

Operator

And our next question comes from the line of Mark Carden from UBS.

M
Mark Carden
analyst

So this is building upon a few of the earlier questions and even the last question. But more broadly, across the consumer landscape, we've seen a slowdown in food inflation. Does this impact how you think about desired consumables penetration in the year ahead? Just think about the balance between the importance of this category with the potential for more freed-up spending dollars for discretionary.

J
John Swygert
executive

Mark, a lot of the disinflation has been really around the, I'll call it, the grocery consumable category or the perishable or the cold food. We don't have any of that. We're really -- we're talking package can -- packaged goods, canned goods in our stores. So they haven't seen a ton of disinflation there yet. But if it does come, there'll be opportunities for us from that perspective too. So that doesn't bother us. The loyalty that we've built with the consumer has been very strong on the food and candy category, and we expect that to continue in 2024.

E
Eric van der Valk
executive

Yes, Mark, disinflation is disruption, and that's good for us.

M
Mark Carden
analyst

Okay. Fantastic. And then for a follow-up, just on the real estate environment, are opportunities from shuttered retailers like Bed Bath progressing in line with what you're anticipating? Just your latest thoughts there.

E
Eric van der Valk
executive

It takes a little while, Mark, for that to work its way through. So the short answer to your question is, yes, it does create opportunities. It is creating opportunities with our model and our focus on second-generation sites that meet certain criteria, typically the spaces are vacant for a period of time before the economics make sense to us and to the landlord to do a deal.

So we do like what we're seeing out there. We like our chances. We like some of the vacancies that are being created by the disruption and some of the retailers that are out there that are shedding sites or potentially on the brink of [indiscernible]. So that is good for us.

Operator

This does conclude the question-and-answer session of today's program. I'd like to hand the program back to John Swygert for any further remarks.

J
John Swygert
executive

I would like to thank everyone for their time and interest in Ollie's. We look forward to updating you on our continued progress on our next earnings call. Thank you. Have a great day.

Operator

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your participation in today's conference. This does conclude the program. You may now disconnect. Good day.