September 28, 2012, 11:45 AM

Ascena will beef up its e-commerce fulfillment center in Indiana

The apparel retailer plans to spend $37 million to add space and equipment.

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Ascena Retail Group Inc. is planning a major makeover to a facility in Indiana that will soon become the e-retailer’s primary e-commerce distribution center.

Ascena, No. 171 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, plans to invest about $34 million in equipment and systems for its 123-acre facility in Greencastle that currently employs 185 workers. The Greencastle facility was previously owned by Charming Shoppes Inc., No. 128, which Ascena acquired in June.

Ascena, which operates stores and e-commerce sites for the former Charming Shoppes women’s apparel brands Lane Bryant, Dress Barn and others, will spend another $3 million to build a 40,000-square-foot addition to its existing 794,000-square-foot facility.

The merchant says growth in e-commerce contributed to its decision to enhance its fulfillment operations. Ascena reported e-commerce sales increased by 54% in fiscal 2012, from $104 million to $160 million.

“Online sales continue to be the most rapidly growing part of our business, and the efficient operation of e-commerce distribution is a critical component of our ability to serve our customers in an exceptional manner,” says David Jaffe, president and CEO. “The opportunity to consolidate all our e-commerce distribution under one roof—to maximize labor, inventory and transportation efficiencies—supports our strategies, and allows us to transform and expand our facility in Indiana.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Ascena up to $2.2 million in tax credits and $75,000 in training grants contingent upon the retailer hiring additional distribution, warehouse and management workers. The merchant says it plans to create 242 new jobs by 2018.

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