Apparel cataloger Boden will open a 60,000 sq.-ft. distribution center/call center in Scranton, PA, in January—it’s the first company-owned U.S.-based facility in the U.K. apparel company’s five-year history. (The company outsources a Miami-based contact center.)
That’s good news for the U.K.-based Boden, as it was shipping every item from its Leicester, U.K. distribution center. The merchant’s U.S. direct sales have grown rapidly, projected to top $100 million next year after only five years in business here.
“Most of our customers are concentrated in the Northeast, so we started to concentrate on that area,” explains Ben Dreyer, chief operating officer. Boden first had to put in due some due diligence on the site. Because of the travel to the U.K. and back, the process began slowly. But once it decided on the Scranton area, it took less than three months to choose the facility, he says.
Labor costs and availability were a key concern. What is the labor market? What’s the cost and availability? “We weren’t going for a highly automated DC/call center but we wanted labor to be labor intensive. “So we need to be able to get good quality staff. My horror as an operations person would be to have center and not fill it with good people.”
The DC had to be accessible to Great Britain. “If we have a problem at our facility, I want to be able to get there,” Dreyer says, adding the facility is two and a half hours from Newark airport, which has direct flights to London.
The clincher for Dreyer was that Scranton just seemed right for the Boden brand. “The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area felt more like home and had a greater sense of community feel than anything we looked at. And that was an important factor us,” he says.