NATICK, Mass. -- Continued performance of food and consumables drove same-store sales increases at BJ's Wholesale Club during its fiscal first quarter, the retailer based here said.
BJ's reported comparable-store gains of 5.8% for the quarter ended April 30, with the fresh produce category gaining 25% on a comp basis, Michael Wedge, BJ's president, chief executive officer and director, said last week during an earnings conference call.
The retailer's focus on food is set to continue, Wedge added, with several stores selected to begin offering natural and organic foods beginning this summer. Wedge said the stores were selected based on BJ's research of their customer base.
"You can expect our efforts to improve quality, presentation and value in the produce department will continue," he said.
As previously reported, a club set to open this summer in Cape Coral, Fla., will focus on "innovation and experimentation in food categories," Wedge added. BJ's currently operates a club in Kissimmee, Fla., which focuses on developing strategies to drive general merchandise sales.
"We're excited about the learning that will come out of the Cape Coral club, and we believe the BJ's prototype long term will likely be a combination of learnings from Cape Coral and Kissimmee," Wedge said.
BJ's reported sales of $1.8 billion, an increase of 9.8% from last year's first quarter. Earnings of $18.6 million or 27 cents per share, increased 15.5%.
BJ's plans to open eight or nine stores by the end of the fiscal year and has around 25 stores planned for the 18 months following that, Wedge said, adding that the company projects availability of "takeover real estate" to be strong.