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It’s official: BJ’s will be acquired by Leonard Green, CVC

BY Allison Cerra

WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — After months of speculation, BJ’s Wholesale Club has entered a definitive agreement to be acquired by Leonard Green & Partners and CVC Capital Partners for an all-cash transaction valued at about $2.8 billion.

BJ’s board of directors unanimously approved the merger agreement — which is subject to approval of BJ’s shareholders, customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals — and recommended that all BJ’s shareholders vote in favor of the transaction.

The payout to shareholders, which is $51.25 per share in cash, is about 38% above the closing price of BJ’s shares on June 30, 2010, the day before Leonard Green announced its 9.5% ownership stake in the company, as well as approximately 7% above the closing price of BJ’s shares on June 28 of this year.

BJ’s lead director and chairman Thomas Shields said that the board "believes that this transaction maximizes value and is in the best interests of our shareholders, employees and members."

Added Laura Sen, BJ’s president and CEO, "BJ’s will benefit from the continued execution of our business plan and the significant retail expertise of our new partners at LGP and CVC, as well as from continued investments in our clubs, our people and technology, and the future of our business. Our members will continue to enjoy the top-quality merchandise, outstanding savings and great service that they’ve come to expect from BJ’s on every visit."

Earlier this month, Leonard Green and CVC revealed their plans to submit a joint buyout bid to BJ’s in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on June 17.

The transaction is expected to close during fourth quarter 2011.

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SymphonyIRI: Gas prices limit trips to stores

BY Allison Cerra

CHICAGO — Looming gas prices are taking a toll on consumers’ shopping habits, according to a special report by SymphonyIRI Group.

According to the latest report, "The Ripple Effect: High Gas Prices Bring Pain Beyond the Pump," SymphonyIRI found that shopping trips are being consolidated, with 4-out-of-10 shoppers being forced to reduce or completely eliminate trips to their preferred retailers due to rising gas prices, SymphonyIRI said. Additionally, consumers in the first half of 2011 opted to shop at mass/supercenter and club formats, versus traditional grocery stores, compared with the year-ago period. Many consumers also are turning to closer-to-home retail outlets to offset the costs of gas.

"Even though gas prices have eased in the last month, they are still high and continue to put a strain on the family budget," SymphonyIRI SVP marketing John McIndoe said. "The bottom line is that shoppers still face a lot of uncertainty with the ups and downs of the economy and will continue to evaluate their purchases very carefully for the foreseeable future."

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CamelBak introduces Better Bottle Insulated

BY Allison Cerra

PETALUMA, Calif. — CamelBak has introduced new reusable bottles that are made of Tritan plastic.

CamelBak’s Better Bottle Insulated are designed to keep liquids cool more than twice as long as traditional plastic bottles and reduce condensation with the use of Tritan plastic, CamelBak said. Additionally, the bottles feature a spill-proof Big Bite valve, which provides no-tip sipping and can be flipped shut for easy storage and transport.

“This is a great option for those who enjoy the lightweight benefits of BPA-free Tritan plastic but don’t want to deal with warm drinks and wet hands,” said Jon Austen, director of product management at CamelBak.

CamelBak’s Better Bottle Insulated is available nationwide for a suggested retail price of $20.

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