Need a hint that outdoor companies are feeling a bit more confident about the economy? Take a look at this summer’s real estate moves. Numerous brands, including heavy hitters such as The North Face and Marmot, moved into larger new homes in July and August, making room for expansions and taking advantage of favorable commercial real estate opportunities on the heels of the downturn.
The North Face, Jansport and Lucy, along with the corporate offices of parent VF Corp’s Outdoor and Action Sports Coalition, opened their new offices this July in Alameda, Calif. The new build-to-suit, 160,000-square foot headquarters at 2701 Harbor Bay Parkway sits on 14 acres and includes a 1,000-square-foot fitness center, an on-campus bike shop, gear lockers, a café and a community garden.
Outside the new headquaters of The North Face, Jansport and Lucy
Inside the cafeteria
The new home also was built in mind to foster collaboration between the outdoor brands to leverage and share the strengths of all employees, officials said. The brands will share common areas, including lab-testing areas.
The four-building campus features LEED Gold standards, including solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicle charging stations and an evaporative cooling HVAC system that circulates 100 percent fresh air without the use of emission-causing coolants.
With more than 470 employees on the campus, VF Outdoor is now one of the top ten largest private sector employers in Alameda, officials said. The company has the option to purchase the adjacent land to expand the campus in the future.
>>A little further north of the San Francisco Bay Area, Marmot is doubling its space to accommodate growth. The brand, owned by Jarden Corp., recently moved from 24,000 square feet in Santa Rosa, Calif. to about 50,000 square feet in nearby Rohnert Park, Calif., at 5789 State Farm Drive. Along with offices and storage, there is a small portion of manufacturing space, where Marmot can experiment with processes and produce some of its high-end, technical products on a local level.
Marmot had needed more space for some time, President Mark Martin told SNEWS. The 38-year-old brand spent 23 years at its former location, and the company decided to wait until 2012, when its most recent lease was up, to move.
Marmot President Mark Martin in the company's new headquarters
As luck would have it “it’s a very advantageous time to be negotiating a lease,” Martin said. Marmot signed a 10-year lease at the new building, and local media called the deal a shot in the arm for Rohnert Park, which struggled with commercial real estate following the downturn.
Now, Marmot has room to spread out. Along with providing adequate space for its 124 local employees, the brand plans to add an additional 40 new employees at the new headquarters during the next three years, Martin said. Growth is coming from all sectors, he said, but specifically, kids’ products and international growth (Asia and South America) have been strong recently.
The new building also boasts a fitness room and shower facility, a large cafeteria, three showrooms and a one-acre park outside, a perfect for an outdoor venue to set up and show tents, Martin said.
>>Call it a re-expansion for Birkenstock. The footwear brand is moving its headquarters back to its 93-acre campus in Novato, Calif., where it will refill 37,000 square feet of office space to accommodate recent growth. The move back across town is expected to be complete in September, while distribution facilities will remain out of Hebron, Ky. Officials said the company’s expansion is coming from initiatives to grow its business in the running and outdoor markets.
>>One is better than three in the case of Mammut’s North American distribution business. The Swiss outdoor brand is consolidating three separate warehouses — all in Vermont — into one 23,000-square-foot building in Shelburne, Vt. The new warehouse will provide better efficiency with all product categories under the same roof, officials said.
>>On the heels of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in early August, Footbalance headed east, not west to home from Salt Lake City. The Finnish footbed company moved its North American headquarters from San Diego to Boulder, Colo., immediately following the show. The move places Footbalance “in the hub of the outdoor and footwear industries to better partner with key brands in those channels,” President and CEO Matt Kaplan said of the decision to relocate. “By moving to Boulder we will be in a location where people live and breathe a healthy, balanced and active lifestyle,” he added. The company will maintain its warehousing, distribution and logistics in San Diego.
>>Bamboo Bottle Co. decided to switch homes and coasts all together this summer. The bottle company moved its headquarters from Portsmouth, N.H., to Truckee, Calif. to integrate company operations and address growing demand in west coast markets. It was the last step West for Bamboo Bottle — its fulfillment center had already relocated to Los Angeles late last year. Now all operations are in the Golden State.
>>Outdoor retailers, not just manufacturers, are expanding as well. Logan, Utah-based CampSaver broke ground this summer on a new building it purchased to quadruple its current space. The 34,000-square-foot building will include 6,000 square feet of office space, a 3,000-square-foot retail showroom and 25,000 square feet of warehouse with additional land to expand in the future. Besides providing much more space, the new location brings the entire business under one roof, which previously had its retail location about five miles away. The company expects to hire an additional 10 people within the next year, said CampSaver Founder and Owner Andy Stroman. The new headquarters is expected to be completed in October.
>>Outdoor Divas, a women’s specific outdoor retailer in Boulder, Colo., has a new home, relocating its shop off the city’s popular pedestrian Pearl Street after 10 years to a shopping center east of downtown. Owner Kim Walker thinks the move is a good one, because the shopping center where the new store at is located 2317 30th St., is anchored by Whole Foods, where she said many of her customers shop. There’s also free parking and lower rent costs. The business also has a location in Denver.
>>New Zealand-based Icebreaker continues to expand its North American retail footprint, announcing plans to open its eighth store here in Bethesda, Md., outside of Washington D.C.
The merino wool apparel brand plans to open a 1,200-square-foot TouchLab store at 4821 Bethesda Ave., near fellow outdoor/fitness brand stores The North Face, Lululemon and Lucy. Opening is scheduled for March 2013.
>>Entering its 31st state, REI announced it will open its first store in Kansas with a new location in Overland Park. The 23,500-square-foot store at at the intersection of West 135th Street and Lamar Avenue at Prairiefire at Lionsgate is scheduled to open in fall 2013. The new store will offer outdoor gear and feature a bike shop, along with rental and repair services. REI officials said the new store will hire 50 to 60 employees.
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