Advance Auto Parts makes home in Triangle

 In January 2019

Advance Auto Parts is looking to the Triangle’s tech talent to boost business as e-commerce syphons customers from traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, including those selling batteries, motor oil and car wax. The Fortune 500 company, which sells to do-it-yourselfers and independent repair shops and dealers, is moving its headquarters to Raleigh from Roanoke, the western Virginia town of about 100,000 where it was founded in 1932. Plans call for adding 435 jobs over the next five years with annual salaries averaging $106,000, about double Wake County’s average.

The move wasn’t surprising since Chief Executive Officer Tom Greco, a longtime PepsiCo executive who took the job in 2016, and other top executives were already based in the Capital City.

Like many businesses, Advance is getting pressured by Amazon, which in recent years has partnered with Sears, Pep Boys and others. Advance’s revenue has declined slightly each year since 2014, the same year the company completed its $2 billion purchase of Raleigh-based General Parts International. It totaled $9.4 billion in 2017, and analysts project revenue of $9.6 billion in 2018, according to Yahoo Finance.

“Our industry and our company are in the midst of a major technology and business transformation,” Greco said in a news release. “Following a thorough review of options, North Carolina’s deep bench of information technology and software development talent was a key driver of our decision.”

In October, Advance launched a partnership with Walmart for an online automotive specialty store. In December, the company rolled out MyAdvance, an interactive platform for independent dealerships to assist with parts ordering, online support and other tasks.

Advance operates about 5,000 stores in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean and also serves about 1,200 independently owned Carquest stores. It has 310 stores and employs more than 2,900 full-time workers in North Carolina, including more than 700 at its Raleigh offices. The company could receive state incentives of nearly $9.4 million.


Cambrex cash

Durham-based Avista Pharma Solutions is being acquired by Cambrex, a publicly traded drug developer based in East Rutherford, N.J., for $252 million in cash. Avista moved its headquarters from Longmont, Colo., to Durham in 2015 after purchasing the contract-manufacturing and research business of biotech company Scynexis. Avista also has facilities in Agawam, Mass., and Edinburgh, Scotland.

Cambrex makes active pharmaceutical ingredients for small-molecule therapeutics, a diverse group of drugs that includes everything from cancer therapies to narcotics. Its revenue in 2017 topped $534 million. Avista is the company’s second acquisition in the last year — in September it acquired Halo Pharma, a New Jersey-based contract drug developer and manufacturer, for $425 million. Cambrex also has a 35,000-square-foot manufacturing site in High Point, where it has invested more than $9 million since its 2016 acquisition of PharmaCore for about $25 million, including a $1 million expansion announced in December.

Prior to the sale, Avista was owned by the Wellesley, Mass.-based private-equity firm Ampersand Capital Partners. Patrick Walsh, who previously led Wilmington-based AAIPharma Services, is CEO.

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