At Home CEO Lee Bird will retire effective Dec. 31, the company said Wednesday.
Bird, 58, has been at the company for 11 years and transformed it from a tired Houston-based brand called Garden Ridge into a fast-growing home superstore concept. He moved the headquarters to Plano and rebranded it At Home. A year ago the company moved into a new headquarters in Dallas.
The departure is a surprise and most expected Bird to at some point lead the company out of private equity ownership with an initial public offering. At Home was taken private after a proxy challenge in July 2021 by Hellman & Friedman in a deal valued at $2.8 billion.
At the time, Bird had said he believed At Home could more than double its store count to more than 600 locations and that it could do so faster as a private company.
A CEO search is on, the company said in a statement.
In the meantime, an office of the CEO has been formed to run the business with Jeff Evans, president and chief merchandising officer; Jerry Murray, chief financial officer; and Ashley Sheetz, chief operating officer.
Erik Ragatz, At Home’s lead director, will be the executive chairman. Ragatz was formerly a partner at Hellman & Friedman where he worked for more than 20 years and is listed as a senior adviser on H&F’s website.
“On behalf of the company, I want to thank Lee for his tremendous leadership of At Home over the last decade,” Ragatz said. “Lee helped build At Home into one of the great retailers across industries. As a leader and mentor, Lee has had a profound impact on At Home’s thousands of employees and will remain an important member of the At Home family for years to come.”
Bird joined the company as CEO in December 2012 after executive positions at Gap, Old Navy and Nike. He led At Home from a chain of 58 stores and $364 million in revenue to 268 stores with almost $2 billion in annual sales. It went private after a successful period during the pandemic when Americans were sprucing up their homes. Sales increased 27.4% in 2020 to $1.74 billion.
Bird wasn’t available for an interview.
“Helping At Home become one of the nation’s top home decor retailers is one of the great honors of my career,” Bird said in a press release. He thanked staff who contributed to the company’s achievements.
“Together, we have created a valuable, differentiated business with even more room for growth, and I’m confident in this team’s ability to continue to build on At Home’s track record of success,” Bird said.
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