BJ’s Wholesale Talks to Shops

BJ’s Wholesale Club has held meetings with agencies about handling its advertising account and may be poised for a full-blown review, sources said.

One advertising exe cu tive, speaking on terms of ano nymity, said BJ’s officials met with his shop a few weeks ago and in quired about general capabilities and retail experience. Officials did not re quire speculative work. Boston’s Partners & Sim ons, which has held the account for three years, intends to defend if invited to participate, according to agency official Mark Young.

BJ’s executives did not return calls by press time.

The client is apparently mulling a list of undisclosed small and medium-sized agencies, sources said. It appears that shops near the chain’s New England base of operations are preferred, but location is not believed to be a strict requirement, sources said.

The Natick, Mass.-based BJ’s has been aggressive in terms of expansion, opening more than 10 new stores annually in recent years. The client is looking for campaigns to help fuel further expansion, mainly in Flo rida and the Carolinas, sources said.

Ad spending has been approximately $5 million in each of the past two years, per CMR, but that figure will likely increase as expansion continues, sources said.

The discount chain has more than 120 locations in 15 states, mainly in the Northeast but also in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Virginia.

BJ’s competes against similar club-style operations such as Costco but also against retail giants such as Staples, Best Buy, Circuit City and Sears.

Members of BJ’s can purchase items including food, flowers, household products, books, software and produce priced 8-10 percent below what they cost at conventional retail outlets. In ex change, members pay an annual fee.

Partners & Simons produced multimedia campaigns that used the tagline, “It’s everything you didn’t expect. All in one place.” —with Kristen Rountree and David Gianatasio