September 10, 2013, 2:19 PM

American Eagle Outfitters preps for a new distribution center

The retailer plans a 2015 opening of a warehouse to handle growing web sales.

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The new distribution center will have approximately 600,000 square feet of space.

Apparel retailer American Eagle Outfitters Inc. plans to open a new distribution center in Pennsylvania that can accommodate the retailer’s growing e-commerce sales as well as shipments to its stores.

Scheduled to be operational by July 2015, the new distribution center will have more than 600 employees and double the approximately 300,000 square feet devoted to fulfillment at its current facility in Warrendale, PA, which the retailer will close. American Eagle Outfitters is No. 64 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide with $476.0 million in 2012 online sales, a 25% increase from $373.6 million in 2011. E-commerce sales are a major reason for the new facility.

The new center will be in Hazleton, PA, about 280 miles east of Warrendale, a suburb of Pittsburgh. The Warrendale distribution center will close in part because it does not have the physical space to accommodate e-commerce fulfillment and because it only serves stores, the company says.

Opening the Hazleton distribution center is necessary to keep pace with American Eagle Outfitters’ e-commerce growth, the company says. Hazleton is a more favorable location, given its proximity to the Eastern U.S. transportation network, a spokeswoman says.  “There is no opportunity to expand the distribution center to upgrade Warrendale’s capabilities to handle both direct-to-consumer and retail,” she says. “Without that capability we would not have a shared inventory model and a single view of inventory, which is critical to our omnichannel strategy and growth.”

Once the Hazleton distribution center is open, it and another warehouse with more than 1 million square feet in Ottawa, KS, will handle American Eagle Outfitters’ store and online fulfillment needs, the spokeswoman says. “Our goal is to provide a seamless shopping experience for our customer from beginning to end, which is facilitated by having a single view of inventory,” she says.

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