BJ’s names new leader

Lee Delaney

BJ’s Wholesale Club has elevated EVP/Chief Growth Officer Lee Delaney to CEO of the company.

The club retailer just announced during its third-quarter fiscal report in November that it will be adding more private label products, a more simplified grocery assortment and a sharper focus on general merchandise. 

Current CEO Christopher J. Baldwin will become executive chairman. In this role, Baldwin, who joined the company and the board in 2015, will serve as a strategic adviser to Delaney and lead the board of directors.

In addition, Thomas A. Kingsbury, the former CEO of Burlington Stores Inc., has been appointed to the board. Delaney was also appointed to the company’s board.

The changes are effective on Feb. 2.

“Lee’s strategic vision and leadership have been instrumental in the transformation of BJ’s Wholesale Club,” Baldwin said. “We’re on track to deliver our fourth consecutive year of record earnings with strong cash flow and membership at historic levels. Lee’s knowledge of all areas of our business and strong record of driving profitable growth make him the ideal leader for our company. I look forward to working closely with Lee to ensure a smooth transition as we continue our transformation.”

The company also noted that its transformation priorities for 2020 will focus on (1) acquiring and retaining members (it currently has the highest percentage of paid members in company history) and (2) delivering value to shoppers through a smaller assortment, personalized promotions and improved services. Baldwin added that he expects the retailer to be “led by general merchandise” going forward.

Delaney joined BJ’s in 2016 as EVP, chief growth officer. Prior to joining BJ’s, Delaney was a partner in the Boston office of Bain & Co., and a leader in the firm’s consumer products practice. Delaney holds an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University and a bachelor’s degree in computer science and mathematics from the University of Massachusetts.

“This is an exciting time to be a part of BJ’s Wholesale Club, and I’m honored to lead this company and this great team,” Delaney said. “We have a strong growth strategy in place and will continue to focus on providing outstanding value and service to our members. I look forward to continuing to work with Chris as we take advantage of the opportunities ahead of us, producing profitable growth and shareholder value over the long term.”

Kingsbury replaces Cameron Breitner, who is stepping down from the board. “I’m thrilled to have Tom Kingsbury join our board,” Baldwin said. “His deep understanding of value retail and track record of building shareholder value will be extremely valuable as we continue to transform BJ’s Wholesale Club.”

Kingsbury was CEO of Burlington from 2008 to 2019. Prior to that, he was senior EVP/information services, e-commerce, marketing and business development at Kohl’s Corp. Kingsbury also held management positions with The May Department Stores Co., including president and CEO of the Filene’s/Kaufmann’s division. He's a member of the board of directors of Tractor Supply Co.

Breitner is a partner at CVC and joined the board in 2011.

“Cameron has played a crucial role in the transformation of our company,” Baldwin said. “We are all very grateful for his support of our work.”

Baldwin joined BJ’s in September 2015 as president and COO and director, and was named CEO in February 2016 and chairman in 2018. Prior to joining BJ’s, he was CEO of Hess Retail Corp., a spinoff of Hess Corp.. Before joining Hess Retail, he held various leadership roles at Nabisco, Hershey, and Procter & Gamble. Baldwin is also the chairman of the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association.

Gina Acosta writes for Store Brands’ sister publication Progressive Grocer.