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UPDATE 1-BJ's Wholesale names Laura Sen CEO

NEW YORK, Dec 11 (Reuters) - BJ's Wholesale Club BJ.N on Thursday named its president, Laura Sen, to serve as chief executive officer, succeeding Herb Zarkin in a widely expected management change.

BJ’s, the No 3 U.S. warehouse club operator, said Sen will become CEO effective Feb. 1. She has served as president and chief operating officer since January 2008, and she will retain the title of president.

Zarkin will continue to serve as chairman and will stand for re-election to the board when his term expires in May of 2010. Previously, he had planned to retire from the board.

Zarkin, BJ's long-standing chairman, took over as interim CEO of BJ's in 2006, when the retailer lagged behind rivals Costco Wholesale Corp COST.O and Wal-Mart Stores Inc's WMT.N Sam's Club and posted a string of disappointing sales.

Zarkin has since revamped the business, cutting back on the number of items BJ’s sells and improving its merchandise selection. BJ’s November sales at warehouse clubs open at least a year, or same-store sales, rose 4.1 percent, while many retailer’s monthly sales fell amid a sharp pullback in consumer spending.

When the warehouse club operator reported its quarterly results last month, Zarkin said it was no secret that Sen would take over as chief executive, it was just a question of when.

Zarkin said at the time that he would still be involved in the business after the management change.

BJ’s shares fell 4 percent to $34.88 in early morning trading amid a broad market decline. (Reporting by Nicole Maestri; Editing by Derek Caney)

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