September 2, 2009, 12:00 AM

Chico’s tries on a new distribution center

After making an investment of $15 million and adding about 189 full-time jobs, Chico’s in August made the move to a new 300,000-square-foot distribution facility that will give the retailer room to expand through 2016.

The move to a dedicated distribution center will help specialty women’s apparel retailer Chico’s FAS Inc. better support its fast-growing web channel, director of e-commerce Stephen Carvelli, tells Internet Retailer.

With its old distribution center in suburban Atlanta, Chico’s, No. 219 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide , was confined to about 150,000 square feet with products literally stacked to the ceiling. “We had run out of room,” says Carvelli, who oversees e-commerce technology for Chico’s multiple web sites: Chicos.com, Soma.com and WhiteandBlack.com.

After making an investment of $15 million and adding about 189 full-time jobs, Chico’s in August made the move to a new 300,000-square-foot facility that will give the retailer room to expand through 2016. “We now have room to spread out products and shelving and that’s going to expedite the pick, pack and ship process,” Carvelli says.

In conjunction with the new warehouse Chico’s opened not far from its old facility in Winder, GA, a suburb of Atlanta, the company also is adding a 300,000-square-foot call center that will support its fast-growing direct business.

Chico’s doesn’t break out web sales, but the company’s direct business, which includes catalog and web, increased 41.1% in the first two quarters to $42.2 million from $29.9 million. In comparison total sales for the first two quarters increased 2% to $830.6 million from $814.7 million. “We needed a new distribution center to handle our growing web sales,” Carvelli says.

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