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BJ’s Sales Climb 12.1% Q1, Comps Up 6.6%

Natick, Mass. — Positive fiscal first quarter financials at BJ’s Wholesale Club “reflect significant investments to become a truly member-centric organization,” according to the retailer.

Sales jumped 12.1 percent in the three months, ended May 1, hitting $1.6 billion, up from a year-ago $1.4 billion, while comparable club sales in the first quarter moved ahead 6.6 percent, including a contribution from sales of gasoline of 0.4 percent.

Net income in BJ’s first quarter hit $16.1 million, compared with $11.3 million in the same three months in 2003. Last year’s first quarter includes the cumulative effect of accounting principle changes, and also a post-tax gain of $700,000, as a result of reducing reserves for certain lease obligations.

“Based on our Member Insight findings, we re-merchandised approximately 75 percent of the aisles in our clubs during the first quarter,” said Mike Wedge, president/CEO. “On a comparable club sales basis, food increased approximately 9 percent and general merchandise increased approximately 4 percent during the first quarter.”

BJ’s said it repurchased about 317,000 shares of common stock during the first three months, at an average price of $25.10 per share, for a total of about $8 million.

The wholesale club operated 150 locations at the end of the first quarter, up from 143 year-over-year. Membership fees taken in during the three months increased to $36.7 million, compared with a year-ago $33.6 million.