September 22, 2011 | last updated March 25, 2012 1:58 pm

BJ's Wholesale CEO: Sale is €˜Right Decision'

Laura Sen, president and CEO of Westborough-based BJ's Wholesale Club, told MetroWest businesspeople this morning that the sale of the company to private owners is "the right decision for shareholders."

"The shareholders were rewarded with a very nice premium to the stock price," Sen told a gathering in Westborough organized by the Corridor Nine Area Chamber of Commerce.

Sen said management made a point of calming nervous employees after the company announced in February that it was evaluating strategic alternatives for the company.

"That was a tough announcement," she said.
But, the company's financial performance has been strong over the last seven months, she noted. First-quarter profits increased more than 25 percent year-over-year and second-quarter profits increased nearly 28 percent.

Two private equity firms, Leonard Green & Partners LP and funds advised by CVC Capital Partners, agreed in June to buy BJ's in an all-cash transaction worth an estimated $2.8 billion.

A shareholder lawsuit seeking to block the sale was withdrawn on Sept. 1.
In a Q&A session, Sen was asked about the company's newest store, which opened at Northborough Crossing last week. BJ's closed its Westborough store earlier this month.

Sen said the Westborough store was nearly 25 years old and did not fit with "what the new prototype of BJ's has to offer."

Asked what local governments can do to attract a business such as BJ's to their communities, Sen said there are only so many factors a town can control. BJ's moved from Natick to the former National Grid building in Westborough last year.

A smooth regulatory framework and faster approvals are helpful, she said, but they're not everything. "It has a lot to do with population density, income and quality of the location," she said.

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