Howard Levine is stepping down as chief executive officer of Matthews-based Family Dollar on Jan. 15, the company announced Friday.
Levine’s departure follows Virginia-based Dollar Tree’s acquisition of Family Dollar last summer. At the time, the company had said Levine would remain with the company for two years to assist with the integration, reporting to Dollar Tree CEO Bob Sasser.
Gary Philbin, who was named Family Dollar president and chief operating officer in July, will continue in his current role leading Family Dollar, reporting to Sasser.
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“It was very important to me for Howard to remain with our company and to contribute to the combination of our two large organizations. He has been an integral leader at Family Dollar for more than two decades, and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience,” Sasser said in a statement.
Levine has been at the helm of the discount chain since 1998, growing Family Dollar’s footprint and revenues throughout the recession as other retailers scrambled to stay afloat. Under Levine, the chain expanded to 8,200 stores in 46 states.
It was Levine’s father, Leon, who opened the first Family Dollar store in 1959 on Central Avenue in Charlotte at the age of 22 with a $6,000 loan.
“I have been impressed by Dollar Tree’s commitment to discipline and execution in running a value retail business. I am confident that both the Family Dollar and Dollar Tree banners are well-positioned for many years of growth and success,” Levine said in the statement.
A Dollar Tree spokesman confirmed that Levine remains on Dollar Tree’s board of directors. Levine, Sasser and Philbin were not available to comment.
The Levines are among the biggest philanthropists in North Carolina. Last week, Howard Levine donated $1 million to help build a child development center on Charlotte’s west side. The project’s organizers say adding the prominent Levine name to the center is a way to raise the project’s visibility and spur more charitable giving from other businesses.
Family Dollar employs about 1,200 in Matthews. The combined Fortune 500 company now operates 14,038 stores in 48 states and five Canadian provinces.