BJ’s Wholesale Club becomes the latest major company to reduce its head office footprint as it plans to move to Marlborough
BJ’s Wholesale Club added nearly 5,000 employees last year to meet demand for groceries and other household basics amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But in one respect, the chain is shrinking: its new headquarters in Marlborough would be a third smaller than its current headquarters, thanks in part to a greater remote working mix, known as the “hybrid” model, after the end of the pandemic.
BJ’s has told Marlborough town officials it intends to lease 190,000 square feet for its new headquarters, starting next year. That compares to the 280,000 square feet of its current headquarters in nearby Westborough. Marlborough City Council is considering property tax relief, worth $592,000 over 20 years, to offset the cost of building a 300-car car park at the new headquarters site, the campus owned at Greatland Realty Partners in Marlborough, off Simarano Drive. The city council voted on Monday to refer the request to its finance committee, which is expected to consider it next week.
The company is committed to employing at least 800 people at the new headquarters, although a BJ executive told Mayor Arthur Vigeant in a February letter that there could be around 1,000 people working there at one time. given. In that letter, BJ’s said it expects at least $15 million in tenant improvements to take place, plus a $5-7 million investment in the new garage. The company does not claim state tax credits for the move.
In an email, BJ spokeswoman Jennie Hardin said the new office space in Marlborough “will feature a modern design and an open floor plan, creating a more collaborative working environment”. She added that the new space “will be equipped with the necessary technology infrastructure to effectively support hybrid working.”
Another perk: The new headquarters provides a “true campus and community feel,” Hardin added. The move would likely begin next spring.
The decision to relocate after a decade to Westborough follows a banner year for BJ’s: the company recently announced that its revenue increased 17% to $15.4 billion for 2020, in part due to the changing consumer shopping habits during the pandemic, such as preparing more meals at home and eating out less often. Total employment, meanwhile, fell from about 27,000 to 32,000. The company, according to its latest public count, operates 221 stores and 151 gas stations in 17 states.
The company also had to deal with a tragedy: the head office move was triggered before the sudden death of chief executive Lee Delaney earlier this month. The BJ board just promoted Bob Eddy to CEO; Christopher Baldwin remains the company’s executive chairman.
Meredith Harris, executive director of the Marlborough Economic Development Corp., said the four campus buildings near Interstate 495 were built in the late 1990s and were once used by 3Com. Harris said city officials were excited to add BJ’s to the city’s list of business names.