FOOD SALES BOOST BJ'S 4Q PROFITS

NATICK, Mass. - BJ's Wholesale Club here said increased sales of private-label groceries and perishables helped drive its profitability in the fourth quarter and fiscal year that ended Jan. 28.label were up 47% for the year as BJ's continues to expand its offerings. In a conference call discussing the results, Mike Wedge, president and chief executive officer, projected eventual sales penetration

NATICK, Mass. - BJ's Wholesale Club here said increased sales of private-label groceries and perishables helped drive its profitability in the fourth quarter and fiscal year that ended Jan. 28.

label were up 47% for the year as BJ's continues to expand its offerings. In a conference call discussing the results, Mike Wedge, president and chief executive officer, projected eventual sales penetration of 20% in private label, up from 12% today.

He also said the company was doubling its produce offering in about 40 stores. Comparable-store sales in produce are running in the 18% to 20% range, Wedge said. Prepared foods are also seeing double-digit comps.

BJ's posted fourth-quarter net income of $51.6 million, up 9.8% over year-ago results, on a sales increase of 5%, to $2.1 billion. For the full year, net income rose 12.3%, to $128.5 million, on a sales increase of 7.8%, to $7.8 billion.