July 25, 2013, 4:41 PM

American Eagle Outfitters opens a technology center in San Francisco

The Pittsburgh-based retail chain plans to hire 100 employees for the office.

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Apparel chain retailer American Eagle Outfitters Inc. has opened its first corporate office on the West Coast, in San Francisco, and says it plans to hire as many as 100 employees over the next year to staff it. The office will function as a technology center charged with supporting the retailer’s engineers, designers and digital marketing teams.

The retailer says opening the office is part of its pursuit of an omnichannel retailing strategy that will personalize shopping for across all buying channels. The retailer already lets consumers place an online order from physical stores when a desired item is not in stock, and consumers can return products ordered online to American Eagle Outfitters stores. The retailer generated $467.0 million in sales on the web last year, up 25% from $373.6 million in 2011, and is No. 64 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide. Online sales accounted for about 13% of total 2012 sales. As of February, it operated 1,044 stores in the United States and Canada. It has plans to open stores this year in Mexico and China.

“The purpose of establishing an innovated progressive tech center in San Francisco is to be able to tap into the tech talent and establish closer relationships with our technical business partners based in the Bay Area,” says Joe Megibow, senior vice president and general manager of omnichannel e-commerce. Megibow will head up the San Francisco office.

The 10,000-square foot office in San Francisco is the third corporate office for the retailer, which is based in Pittsburgh and has a design center in New York City. Web orders are fulfilled from a distribution center in Ottawa, KS.

Megibow says the majority of hires for the San Francisco office are local to the area although some employees have moved to San Francisco from Pittsburgh. “The core online team continues to function from both Pittsburgh and San Francisco,” he says. “As we transform into a global omnichannel leader, we are utilizing technology such as telepresence to work seamlessly across distances and time zones.”

American Eagle Outfitters joins a handful of other retailers that have set down roots in the Bay Area recently. Target Corp. (No. 18 in the Top 500) in May opened a Target Technology Innovation Center in San Francisco. In April, Kohl’s Corp. (No. 26) opened a 52,000 square-foot technology development office in Milpitas, CA. Also in the Silicon Valley corridor, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (No. 4) continues to expand its e-commerce operation based in San Bruno, CA, including its research and development arm, @Walmartlabs. The mass merchant says it plans to hire hundreds of employees for the division this year.

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