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BJ’s Wholesale Club files for IPO

CEO Christopher Baldwin adds chairman’s title

After a nearly seven-year absence, BJ’s Wholesale Club is looking to re-enter the public realm.

BJ's Wholesale Club Holdings Inc. said yesterday it has filed a registration statement for an initial public offering with the Securities and Exchange. The company applied for its common stock to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol BJ.

Also on Thursday, BJ’s said President and CEO Christopher Baldwin has been named chairman, effective immediately, and nonexecutive chairman Laura Sen is retiring from the company’s board.

The number of shares and the price range for the proposed IPO are pending. Among the underwriters are Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank Securities, Goldman Sachs and J.P. The May 17 filing said BJ’s aims to use the IPO proceeds primarily to pay down debt.

For its 2017 fiscal year ended Feb. 3, BJ’s totaled sales of nearly $12.5 billion, up 3.3% year over year. Comparable-club sales inched up 0.8% but, excluding fuel sales, were down 0.9%. Net earnings were $50.3 million, up from $44.2 million a year earlier, while adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) rose to $533.5 million from $457.3 million.

In September 2011, investment firms Leonard Green & Partners and CVS Capital Partners took BJ’s private upon completing a $2.8 billion buyout, which had followed a year of speculation about a potential takeover of the chain. BJ’s shareholders received $51.25 in cash for each share of the company’s common stock they held.

At the time, BJ’s operated 190 warehouse clubs in 15 states, primarily in the Northeast. The retailer currently has 215 stores in 16 states, as well as 134 fuel stations.

Baldwin has served as president and CEO of BJ’s since 2016. Before joining the company as chief operating officer in 2015, he was CEO of Hess Retail Corp. He currently is chairman of the National Retail Federation board of directors.

"I'm pleased to be named chairman of the board and to continue leading our team through the next stage of our transformation," Baldwin said in a statement yesterday.

With more than two decades at BJ’s, Sen has served as a board member since 2008. She was president and CEO from February 2009 to February 2016, becoming nonexecutive chairman when Baldwin was appointed CEO.

“I want to thank Laura for her countless contributions to BJ's Wholesale Club over her more than 25 years with the company,” Baldwin said. “Her leadership, vision and commitment to BJ's have created the foundation for our long-term success."

BJ’s also announced that Nishad Chande, senior managing director at CVS Capital Partners, has joined the retailer’s board.

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