BJ’s is back for investors, IPO planned for NYSE

BJ’s Wholesale Club has filed with regulators for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, the company announced Thursday, in a deal that could value the chain as high as $3 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.

BJ’s return to being a publically traded company comes amid fierce competition in the retail industry with more stores upping their online offerings for just about everything.

Amazon, the dominate online retailer with 44% of all U.S. online sales, has ramped up its offering of bulk household items, which is the bread-and-butter for warehouse clubs such as BJ’s and Costco.

While BJ’s and Costco charge annual membership fees that can average $50 to $60, Amazon has Prime, which now costs $119 annually for new members and covers free shipping on certain items.

BJ’s went private in a near $3 billion deal in 2011 as it refocused its strategy and to reduce the pressure of meeting Wall Street expectations. Private equity firms CVC Capital Partners and Leonard Green & Partners are expected to raise at least $400 million. BJ’s will use a portion of the proceeds to pay down debt, according to the SEC filing.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
WMT WALMART INC. 162.22 +0.50 +0.31%
COST COSTCO WHOLESALE CORP. 569.97 +6.43 +1.14%

The new stock will trade under the ticker symbol “BJ,” though the number of shares and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined, BJ’s said.

Founded in 1984 and headquartered in Westborough, Massachusetts, BJ’s operates 215 clubs in 16 states and competes with other wholesale retailers Costco and Sam’s Club, owned by Walmart.

Shares of Costco have gained nearly 7% this year while Walmart shares have lost nearly 13%.