Ollie’s Bargain Outlet (OLLI) said founder and Chief Executive Mark Butler died unexpectedly on Sunday, and Chief Operating Officer John Swygert was named interim head of the company that’s expecting revenue to top $1.4 billion this year.
Shares of the Harrisburg, Penn.-based discount retailer, sank more than 7% Monday, hitting the lowest intraday since mid October. Ollie’s said 61-year-old Butler had been spending the Thanksgiving holiday with his family when he died.
“From ringing the first sale in the first Ollie’s store in Mechanicsburg, Penn. in 1982, to leading the company’s highly profitable growth to 345 stores in 25 states, Mark built a successful and enduring retail concept, assembled an incredible team, created thousands of jobs and delivered millions of bargains to our customers, while delivering exceptional shareholder value along the way,” Richard Zannino, a member of the company’s board, said in a statement.
Ollie’s shares are down 34% over the past year as the company’s financial performance disappointed investors. In the fiscal second quarter through Aug. 3, net income and revenue both missed analysts’ expectations. Butler at the time said it was a “tough quarter” although he said a 16% growth in revenue year-on-year was aided by new store openings including 13 former Toys ‘R Us locations it acquired.
Ollie’s guided for revenue in the full year of about $1.42 billion to $1.43 billion, but that was lowered from the projection given in March for about $1.44 billion to $1.45 billion. Also in March, the company said it was expecting comparable store sales growth of 1% to 2%, but by August Ollie’s lowered that to an outlook for a decrease of 0.5% to 1.5%. Fiscal third quarter results are due out on Dec. 10.
Swygert, who has been COO since January 2018 and was previously chief financial officer, “worked closely with Mark and played an integral role in the growth and success of Ollie’s,” said Zannino.
“Based on John’s intimate knowledge of the company and the closeout business, and the strength and tenure of the Ollie’s team, the board has the utmost confidence in John’s ability to successfully lead the company at this time,” Zannino added.