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BJs Cuts Almost 500 Jobs, Names New CFO

BJ's Wholesale Club, a potential takeover target, will shave hundreds of jobs and close five stores by the end of the month, the company said Wednesday.

A BJ's Wholesale Club in Stoneham, Massachusetts.
Michael Dwyer
A BJ's Wholesale Club in Stoneham, Massachusetts.

Three stores in the Atlanta area will be shuttered, along with one in Sunrise, Fla., and one in Charlotte, N.C., resulting in 380 job cuts.

The company also says it's cutting 114 corporate-level jobs, 61 of them at the company's Natick, Mass., headquarters and 53 field positions.

"The five clubs to be closed have historically underperformed and, after careful consideration, we concluded that improvement of their operating results was unlikely," said CEO Laura J. Sen.

In July, Green Equity Investors revealed that it had acquired 5.1 million shares in BJ's Wholesale , sending the stock rocketing.

Last month, the private equity firm bought the craft store chain Jo-Ann Stores for about $1.6 billion. The firm has significant investments in food retailers, including Whole Foods Market Green Equity is an affiliate of retail investors Leonard Green & Partners, which led the buyouts of a number of retailers including Petco Animal Supplies and Sports Authority.

The cuts are "strategic in nature," said Wall Street Strategies analyst Brian Sozzi.

"Management is trying to portray itself as having the ability to make the difficult decisions required to drive stronger earnings growth perhaps to stay aboard under a new regime, while also displaying hidden value to would-be bidders," Sozzi said.

The restructuring at BJ's wholesale will result in impairment charges of as much as $28 million in the fourth quarter, or 79 to 82 cents per share. That includes 49 to 51 cents per share related to store closings and 29 to 41 cents per share related to restructuring its headquarters.

The company also announced that Chief Financial Officer Frank Forward will retire, a switch that has been under discussion since 2007. He will be replaced by Robert W. Eddy, currently BJs director of finance.

Forward has been with the company since it was founded in 1984.

The job cuts were announced on the same day that BJ's reported December revenue in stores open at least one year rose 3.8 percent, or 1.4 percent excluding gasoline sales.

The measure is considered a key gauge of a retailer's financial health because it excludes stores that open and close during the year.

Total sales rose 7 percent to $1.25 billion during the five weeks ended Jan. 1.

BJ's operates 194 warehouse clubs in 15 states and has 23,000 employees.

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