Roses Only Was Sold To Give 'Closure' To A Terminally Ill Founder

James Stevens, LinkedIn

Roses Only co-founder James Stevens agreed to a rival firm’s buy-out offer just months before his father, co-founder Peter Stevens, died.

The father-son duo had worked on the Roses Only brand for 18 years when they were approached by Jack Singleton’s FlowersCorp in late August.

Peter was in poor health at the time; he died from cancer in early November.

James took the offer to his father in August and recommended that he accept.

“Every business is at risk until it’s sold and I think that knowing you created some value [was] a light at the end of the tunnel for my father,” he told Business Insider Australia.

“It provided closure for his time and financial contribution. I didn’t make the decision for him but it was certainly one of the drivers.”

James and his father each owned half of Roses Only, which launched in mid-1995, and became an online brand in mid-1999.

Peter had run bricks and mortar flower stores since the mid-1960s. By the 1990s, “the writing was on the wall” and James wanted to turn the family business into a brand that “wasn’t going to be at the mercy of a landlord”.

“It didn’t take much convincing at all [for Peter to back Roses Only],” James said. “I had a very good relationship with my father and he trusted my judgement.

“I don’t think we created Roses Only to sell it; we created it to have a business that would be sustainable for a long time. We remained devoted to the brand right to 31 December, when the buyers took over.”

A BRW report this week valued the buyout at $30 million; James disputed the figure but declined to disclose financial details.

Roses Only changed hands in Australia and New Zealand only. James Stevens still owns the brand internationally and runs Roses Only in Singapore and the UK, with plans to launch in Hong Kong and New York.

He said he had sold all control of the brand to FlowersCorp locally but the deal did not preclude him from setting up other e-tailing or flowers businesses in Australia should the right opportunity emerge.

In the meantime, he said he had yet to decide on what to do with proceeds of the sale.

“I’m a little concerned about the economy,” he said. “I think the jury’s still out on Australia.

“I will do the right thing by the brand that I’m connected to, but I’m free to do another [Australian] business that I could eventually sell back to [FlowersCorp].”

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