NATICK, Mass. — Saying its shoppers were in a more positive frame of mind than a year ago, BJ's Wholesale Club boosted sales, earnings and margins in its fiscal first quarter.
Sales for the period ending May 1 increased 12.9% to $2.55 billion, with comparable-store sales, excluding gasoline, climbing by 4.2%. Net income rose 7.2% to $26.1 million, reflecting an uptick in merchandise margins, particularly in perishable food, which experienced an 8% comp increase. Expense control and income from gasoline sales also helped to boost net income.
"We believe that our members were in a more positive frame of mind than they were a year ago, which might have released some pent-up demand," Laura Sen, chief executive officer, told analysts in a conference call Wednesday.
The results prompted BJ's to raise its guidance for the fiscal year slightly, saying it now expects earnings per share of $2.58 to $2.68, up from a previous estimate of $2.54 to $2.64. Sen said the company was looking to introduce some new private label items after an SKU rationalization program reduced their presence in clubs.
These new launches would be "premium-quality products with remarkable value" including a premium, all-natural dog food brand and healthy children's foods and fruit snacks. Sen explained these products wouldn't compete with national brands necessarily but rather help distinguish the assortment at BJ's.
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