Triangle: Faded roses blossom

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Family-owned retail stores once dominated North Carolina, led by the Belks, who built the largest U.S. privately held department store group, and the Levines, who established discount-store giant Family Dollar Stores. The Rose family of Henderson was a pioneer retailer, opening dozens of stores across Virginia and North Carolina, but it never achieved the same scale as its Charlotte-based peers. Though competition from Wal-Mart prompted a major downsizing, 160 Roses stores are still operating under the ownership of another Tar Heel family.BNC Roses Cover

Following several failed business attempts, Paul Howard Rose borrowed money to take over a Henderson five-and-dime store in 1915. By 1927, the chain had 87 stores and sales of $3.5 million (equal to about $48 million now). By 1990, when Business North Carolina wrote about the company, it had 260 stores, annual sales of $1.5 billion and an $8.9 million annual profit. But the company was also facing intensifying competition from Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores. CEO Lucius Harvin III told BNC writer David Bailey of his plans to outwit its rival with smarter merchandising strategies. As was true for dozens of retailers nationally, Wal-Mart crushed Roses. The chain recorded $180 million in losses and closed about 40 stores from 1990-93.

A public company since 1927, Roses filed for reorganization in bankruptcy court in 1993. It emerged in April 1995 with about 113 stores and a narrower marketing approach, targeting low-income consumers and emphasizing discount prices. With the company continuing to struggle and close stores, Henderson-based Variety Wholesalers wound up with the business, paying $19.2 million in 1997 after two previous offers were rejected.

Variety’s John Pope took over the family business in 1949, and it now has more than 380 stores in 16 states under the Bargain Town, Bill’s Dollar Store, Roses, Roses Express, Maxway, Super 10 and Super Dollar brands. The Roses division consists of 160 stores ranging from 30,000 to 70,000 square feet. In recent months, Roses expanded in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, while it plans a 1.4 million distribution center near Atlanta that will allow for 30 or 40 new store openings annually.

The fate of Roses is now largely in the hands of Variety Chairman Art Pope, best known as a key Republican political kingmaker. Variety’s administrative offices are located in the original Roses building in downtown Henderson.


Southern First Bancshares, based in Greenville, S.C., is expanding to North Carolina, establishing a loan-production office and eventually a full-service branch in Raleigh. Jonathan Taylor, 46, will be executive vice president and Triangle market executive. A graduate of Appalachian State University, Taylor was a senior vice president at Paragon Commercial since 2014 and previously worked for NewBridge Bancorp in the Triangle region. Former Paragon executives Mike Stellar and Monica Navarro also joined the bank as senior vice president and vice president, respectively. Founded in 1999, Southern First has $1.3 billion in assets and nine locations in South Carolina.


RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will build a $94 million, 200,000-square-foot complex to replace four aging labs. About 200 employees will work at the center, which is slated for completion by late 2020. Raleigh-based HH Architecture is the designer.

RALEIGH — Investors Management Corp. acquired RiseMark Holdings, an Omaha, Neb.-based operator of in-home care for senior citizens, for an undisclosed amount. After the deal closed, RiseMark raised $21 million in a private offering. Founded by James Maynard in 1971, IMC’s holdings include Golden Corral and Fleet Feet Sports.

CHAPEL HILL — UNC Chapel Hill raised $495 million in the 2016 fiscal year, a new fundraising record. Of nearly 68,000 donors, 12 committed $5 million or more for a total of $139 million. The university raised $447 million in 2015.

DURHAM — Tom Pike, chief executive officer of Quintiles Transnational, will become president of research and development solutions after the company merges with Danbury, Conn.-based IMS Health Holdings. The largest contract-research organization is combining with the Danbury, Conn.-based health care analytics firm in a $9 billion deal, expected to close by year’s end.

DURHAM — Phononic raised $30 million in a financing that included GGV Capital, Lookout Capital and Rex Health Ventures. The company makes semiconductors for refrigeration devices, beverage chillers and other electronics. Phononic has raised nearly $90 million since it was started in 2009, according to CNBC, which ranked it No. 18 on its 2016 Disruptor 50 list.

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