Lee Delaney became CEO of BJ’s in February 2020.
BJ’s Wholesale Club CEO Lee Delaney, 49, passed away unexpectedly April 8 due to presumed natural causes, the company announced.
Christopher J. Baldwin, executive chairman of the board of directors, issued the following statement on behalf of the board:
“We are shocked and profoundly saddened by the passing of Lee Delaney. Lee was a brilliant and humble leader who cared deeply for his colleagues, his family and his community. We extend our most heartfelt condolences and sympathy to his family, especially his wife and two children. We will honor his legacy and remember the extraordinary impact he had on so many. Our thoughts are with them during this difficult time.”
The National Retail Federation issued the following statement from President and CEO Matthew Shay in response to the passing of Delaney:
“We are extremely shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of Lee Delaney, President and CEO of BJ’s Wholesale Club. We were privileged to have Lee as an active, valued, trusted and thoughtful member of the NRF executive committee and board of directors. He was a great leader who cared deeply about the company, his team and the communities they serve. Lee will be greatly missed by his friends at NRF and within the industry. We have his colleagues, and especially his family, in our thoughts and our prayers.”
Bob Eddy, EVP, chief administrative and financial officer, has been named interim CEO by the board of directors. Eddy joined the company in 2007 and was named EVP/CFO in 2011. He assumed the role of CAO in 2018. Additionally, Christopher J. Baldwin, chairman of the board of directors, has been appointed executive chairman.
“Bob partnered closely with Lee and has played an integral role in transforming and growing BJ’s Wholesale Club,” said Baldwin on behalf of the Board. “We have the utmost confidence in Bob’s leadership and his deep knowledge of the business. We expect to announce permanent changes to our leadership within a reasonably short timeframe, aided by our prior succession planning.”
Delaney was named CEO of BJ’s in February 2020. He started at the company as chief growth officer and EVP in 2016. In 2019, he became the company’s president.
During the fourth quarter ended Jan. 30, same-store sales at BJ's, excluding gasoline sales, increased by 15.9%, including digitally enabled sales growth of 168% and physical store comps of 13%. Operating income at BJ's increased to $144.7 million, or 3.7% of total revenues in the fourth quarter, compared to $81.8 million, or 2.4% of total revenues in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019.
Westborough, Mass.-based BJ's Wholesale Club operates 219 clubs and 148 BJ's Gas locations in 17 states. The company is No. 27 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's 2020 list of the top food retailers in North America.