Pope says Variety Wholesalers management change won’t affect store strategy

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In a recent announcement, Variety Wholesalers stores announced that Bruce Efird will join the business as President and CEO. Longtime Variety veteran Wilson Sawyer has been promoted to President of the parent company, Variety Wholesalers Inc.  The leadership transition was covered in Triangle Business Journal and prompted questions of a potential strategy change. Variety Wholesalers Chairman, James Arthur ‘Art’ Pope answered the speculation.  The article appears in its entirety below.

Former Dollar Express CEO named CEO of Roses parent Variety Stores

By Lauren K. Ohnesorge – Staff Writer, Triangle Business Journal

Aug 22, 2017, 14:47pm

A management change announced Tuesday at Variety Wholesalers will help accelerate the discount retailer’s brick-and-mortar growth strategy, execs say in an interview.

Bruce Efird, the former CEO of Dollar Express and Fred’s, Inc., will be the new president and CEO of Henderson-based Variety Stores – the company behind Roses and Super 10 – effective Sept. 11.

Wilson Sawyer, currently president of Variety Stores, will take a new role as president of the parent company, Variety Wholesalers Inc. Hours after the announcement, Efird, Sawyer and Variety chairman Art Pope answered questions about the management moves, as well as Variety’s accelerating growth plans.

Efird, who learned he’d been selected for the job two weeks ago, says the opportunity for growth helped lure his interest. Efird characterizes the discount retail sector as having “an incredibly bright future.” And he plans to leverage his experience to take advantage of its tailwinds.

He – like the management team he’s entering – isn’t worried about the emergence of e-commerce. While online retailers like Amazon are disrupting brick-and-mortar firms across the globe, Variety has – at least so far – been protected from most of those pressures, says Pope.

“We still have customers who want to look, touch and feel and shop when they need items, when they need to buy for their family,” Pope says. “At this point in time, we don’t see the need [for e-commerce], nor do we see the need to go into the e-commerce competition with Wal-Mart and Amazon and others.”

Sawyer says price is also a factor in keeping Variety’s focus in-store.

“We buy in all kinds of different quantities,” Sawyer says. “We buy everything from multi-truckloads to small quantities, so it’s very difficult to buy something online the way that we buy … And this provides our customers with savings they will not be able to find on the internet.”

Pope says the plan is to continue to expand the brick-and-mortar way. Plans are in place to infill “in places where we are already doing business.” And he expects to take advantage of opportunities to expand in adjoining areas, as well.

“We are growing and we have been growing on a controlled pace, and we do expect to accelerate that in the coming three to five years,” he says.

It’s that kind of thinking that helped lure Efird.

“It’s the consistent growth that the company has demonstrated over the past several years, with exceptional plans to continue,” Efird says.

Efird started his retail career at Food Lion, going on to oversee the strategic direction of more than 700 stores as CEO and president of Tennessee-based Fred’s, Inc.

Sawyer was president and CEO of Maxway Stores when Variety acquired the chain in 1990. Over the years, he’s held multiple roles at the firm, including chief operating officer of Variety Wholesalers.

Variety recently opened a second 1.4 million square foot distribution center in Newnan, Georgia, to help accommodate its growth plans.


Categories: In the Headlines, Roses