Trader Joe’s Chairman and CEO Dan Bane is retiring from the grocer after 22 years in the top role, the company announced Monday morning.
Bryan Palbaum, the grocer’s president and chief operations officer, will take over on July 2, when Bane’s retirement takes effect. Jon Basalone, Trader Joe’s president of stores, will be promoted to vice CEO and president of Trader Joe’s Company.
This is a significant leadership change at one of the country’s most popular grocery chains, which has grown to more than 500 locations.
Under Bane’s leadership, Trader Joe’s has grown from a primarily West Coast focused grocer into a national competitor with legions of devoted shoppers who covet its low prices, unique assortment and quirky brand identity.
A former public accountant and Unified Grocers executive, Bane joined Trader Joe’s in 1998 as president of the company’s West Coast operations and was named chairman and CEO in 2001, according to a Supermarket News story from 2011. Bane took over the top role from John Shields, who had helmed Trader Joe’s beginning in 1988.
Under Shields, Trader Joe’s expanded from California, where it opened its first store in 1967, to the East Coast, increasing its store count from 27 locations to 174. The company had shied away from rapid expansion when it was led by founder Joe Coulombe, CNN noted last year.
Trader Joe’s sales rose from $132 million to $2 billion with Shields as its chief executive, according to a 2002 story in the Graziadio Business Review. Under Bane, Trader Joe’s continued to expand rapidly, and now has 543 locations across 42 states, the grocer said.
These days, it’s common for local communities to petition Trader Joe’s to open a store in their town or city.
As he looks to maintain the grocer’s growth, Palbaum will also have to contend with the small but expanding number of employees who have voted to unionize since the middle of last year. The labor group representing those workers, Trader Joe’s United, has accused the company of mistreating workers by reducing retirement benefits, providing substandard pay and not responding effectively to concerns about safety.
Palbaum joined Trader Joe’s in 2002 as CFO after serving as a partner with accounting firm KPMG, according to California Lutheran University’s School of Management, where he serves on the Dean’s Executive Council. He attended California State University, Long Beach.