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BJ's Sales Increase 15.7%

5/20/2003 08:32:00 AM Eastern

Natick, Mass. - An improving trend in food sales, tempered by a slide in general merchandise business at BJ's Wholesale Club during the retailer's fiscal first quarter, brought about a 15.7 percent increase in overall sales, to $1.4 billion, compared with $1.2 billion in the same period a year ago. Comp-store sales rose by 5.7 percent in the three months.

With cost of sales climbing and selling, general an administrative expenses rising, BJ's operating income was reduced by over one half in the three months, ended May 3, down to $19.8 million, from $39.1 million a year earlier.

Net income also took a deep slide, dropping to $11.3 million in the first quarter, compared with $23.1 million year-on-year. On a pro forma basis, net income reached $12.5 million in the three months, compared with a pro forma $23 million the previous year.

In last year's first quarter, income from continuing operations before accounting changes reached $23.4 million, compared with the $12.7 million reported in this year's first three months.

Breaking apart sales on a comparative basis in the first quarter, food sales increased 3.2 percent, due to company investments in quality and pricing, said BJ's. General merchandise sales slipped by 2.5 percent in the first three months, due, in part, to a weaker economic climate as well as cooler weather in the Northeast, said the retailer.

At the end of the first quarter, BJ's operated 143 warehouse clubs, up from the 134 locations operated at the end of the same period last year.

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