With the retail market evolving and fostering growing competition, grocers are pushed to be more innovative and strategic than ever. Approaching the retail market from a new angle, BJ’s Wholesale Club has announced a new strategy—kicking off in 2020—that sees the company downsizing its product offerings while scaling up its retail operations in order to grow and focus on what it does best.
“First, we're making a sustained effort to transform and simplify our assortment, including continuing investments in private label. Our simplification efforts began in general merchandise, which is upon 5 percent on a two-year stack basis as well as for 2019 year-to-date. The work we've done in this area leaves us in a strong position for Q4 and beyond,” Christopher J. Baldwin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said on an earnings call. “We're moving forward with the transformation in our edible and non-edible grocery business with the goal of driving sales growth with a simpler assortment…We're also seeing good results from the clubs where we have this assortment in place…We're taking a very deliberate approach in this area. Taking time to make sure we get the simplified assortment right.”
Baldwin explained that the company’s brands are central to providing great value to its members—another area BJ’s has been investing in and, as a result, reported record MFI driven by increases in paid members and higher-tier memberships. By limiting its assortment of brands, the retailer is hoping to drive growth through entry into new categories. This strategy has already been applied to its latest Michigan expansion.
“We plan to expand our strategic footprint. We opened two clubs and gas stations in Eastern Michigan this month,” Baldwin continued. “As we've said before, we took a very new approach to marketing to raise awareness in these clubs. We opened these clubs with about 1,000 fewer items than our typical clubs along with new items such as an expanded prepared food assortment, localized apparel, local craft beers, and a snack shop. Though still in the early days, we're very pleased with the initial membership response and our near-term sales trends.”
Additional highlights BJ’s reported in its financial report included the following:
“We delivered solid margin improvement and continued earnings growth in the third quarter,” said Baldwin in a press release. "We remain focused on executing against our strategic plan and transforming our business to be well positioned for the long-term. The board's decision to authorize a stock repurchase program reflects the strength of our cash flow and confidence in our growth strategy and long-term outlook."
To read the company’s full financial report, click here.
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