BJ’s Wholesale Files for IPO

Just seven years after going private, BJ’s Wholesale Club has filed for an initial public offering (IPO), The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported. The deal could value the Westborough, Massachusetts-based, membership-only warehouse chain somewhere between $2 billion and $3 billion.

When private equity partners Leonard Green & Partners and CVC Capital Partners took the company private in September 2011, the deal was worth almost $3 billion. They have since paid themselves a number of dividends. The partners reportedly expect to raise a minimum of $400 million with the IPO more than they were offered by other private equity firms that were interested in buying.

CEO Christopher Baldwin will serve as chairman of the company following the resignation of former CEO (and then non-executive chairman) Laura Sen in March.

In the filing listed on Thursday (May 17), BJ’s said it could sell $100 million worth of shares, but this number is likely to be updated as the IPO moves forward. With 215 locations across 16 eastern U.S. states, BJ’s saw $12.75 billion in annual sales and drummed up profits of more than $50 million in its fiscal year ending in February. It collected membership fees from 5 million members at a renewal rate of 86 percent last year. At $55 per year, membership fees totaled $259 million last year.

BJ’s private equity-backed IPO listing is an unusual move at this time, noted WSJ. Retail IPOs, in general, have been rare amidst industry struggles.

This time last year, 25 private equity-backed companies had debuted on U.S. exchanges, raising a total of $10 billion. This year, those numbers have been cut in half, with only 13 private equity-backed offerings raising $5.7 billion. Only one of those IPOs has been in the retail sector that is, The Hudson Group, which operates stores in airports and other locations.


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