Lee Delaney, the chief executive of Westborough-based BJ’s Wholesale Club, died unexpectedly on Thursday at age 49.
The membership-only warehouse chain announced his passing in a statement issued on Friday, attributing his death to “presumed natural causes.”
Christopher J. Baldwin, the company’s executive board chairman, described Delaney as a “brilliant and humble leader who cared deeply for his colleagues, his family and his community.”
“We are shocked and profoundly saddened by the passing of Lee Delaney,” Baldwin said in a statement. “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.”
Delaney served as CEO of BJ’s for just over a year. He first came to BJ’s in 2016 to be chief commercial officer of its warehouse chain, and was subsequently promoted to the top job, assuming the role in early 2020. Delaney previously worked for Boston consulting firm Bain & Co. for 20 years, according to his LinkedIn profile.
“We will miss Lee immensely,” said Tamar Dor-Ner, who heads Bain’s Boston office, in a statement to the Globe. “He was brilliant and generous and funny and fun. An impossible number of us considered him a good friend or an extraordinary mentor and in many cases both. We send our love to his wife and sons.”
Under Delaney’s leadership throughout the pandemic, the company saw revenues grow by 17 percent to $15.4 billion over the past year, according to its most recent earnings report. Delaney said at the time that the company made “substantial strategic progress” in “delivering record membership results, optimizing merchandising, expanding our digital offerings, accelerating our geographic expansion and enhancing our balance sheet.”
BJ’s primarily operates stores on the East Coast, and it has more than 6 million members across 221 clubs in 17 states, including 25 in Massachusetts. BJ’s is headquartered in a 282,000 square-foot office in Westborough, and this year the company reported having approximately 32,000 full-time and part-time employees. When the markets closed on Friday, BJ’s shares were down 1 percent at $44.35. The stock has risen more than 160 percent since the company went public in 2018.
Bob Eddy, the company’s chief administrative and financial officer, will become BJ’s interim CEO. Eddy joined the company in 2007, and Baldwin said he “partnered closely with Lee and has played an integral role in transforming and growing” the company.
“We have the utmost confidence in Bob’s leadership and his deep knowledge of the business,” Baldwin said. “We expect to announce permanent changes to our leadership within a reasonably short timeframe, aided by our prior succession planning.”
Material from Bloomberg was used in this report.
Jon Chesto of the Globe staff contributed to this report.