"Hibbett to build Alabaster Center"
Hibbett Sports Inc. plans to move its distribution center from Birmingham to Alabaster, spending more than $25 million on the project at a site near the Shelby County Airport.
The move will double the size of the Birmingham-based sporting goods chain's distribution operations, supporting a goal to eventually reach 1,200 to 1,500 stores, up from about 840 now.
On Friday, Hibbett closed on the purchase of a 59-acre site at Shelby West Corporate Park, where plans call for the construction of a 360,000-square-foot distribution center.
The company has outgrown its current distribution center on Industrial Lane, Hibbett's chief executive, Jeff Rosenthal, said. The site is landlocked, so expanding there is not an option.
"We looked at lots of different places throughout the state and in neighboring states, but we felt that proximity to our home office was important" Rosenthal said in an interview. "We've never been separated so we wanted to make sure it's somewhere close."
Hibbett's corporate offices are also located on Industrial Lane and will also move. The company has not finalized the deal on the office location, but it will be in metro Birmingham, Rosenthal said.
The move will bring about 170 jobs to Shelby County. The current distribution center employs about 150 people, and Hibbett plans to add jobs at the new facility.
Hibbett is receiving about $2.2 million in state and local tax abatements over 10 years.
"We are delighted to welcome this company to Shelby County and look forward to working with them as they grow and create new jobs in our community," said James Dedes, executive director of the Shelby County Economic and Industrial Development Authority.
Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock said Hibbett's selection of a site in Shelby County over a competing site in Tupelo, Miss., shows the company's confidence in the local work force.
It will also help the county market the remaining 106 acres at Shelby West Corporate Park, Dudchock said.
The park is developed by the Shelby County Commission and marketed by the Shelby County Economic and Industrial Development Authority. It is home to 17 companies.
Alabaster Mayor David Frings and State Sen. Cam Ward, executive director of the Alabaster Industrial Development Board, cited cooperation between the county and city in recruiting a high-profile company such as Hibbett.
Mark Byers and Deborah McGill of EGS Commercial Real Estate handled the site search that involved more than 20 sites in a multi-state search.
Byers said the Shelby County location provided all of the requirements that Hibbett needed for the project.
"Shelby County had a ready to build site with all the necessary infrastructure in a Class-A industrial park," he said.
Hibbett's net sales for the 13-week period ended April 28 increased 14.4 percent to $232.9 million. Comparable store sales grew 11.1 percent, while net income rose 23.5 percent to $26.4 million.
The company's success has been based on strategy of targeting small to midsize markets - such as Jasper, Hamilton, Boaz and other similarly-sized towns - where residents don't otherwise have access to the sporting goods brands the stores sell.
The company is also known for following Walmart around, locating in shopping centers anchored by the retail giant that puts cars in parking lots. Meanwhile, Hibbett distinguishes itself from Walmart with its brand selection, product knowledge and full-services footwear and team sports departments.
"We like to go where we're needed," Rosenthal said. "A lot of people say they like competition. We don't. We like to stay away from the competition and go where we're needed by the consumer."
The company's fastest growing market is Texas, although it continues to identify new sites within its 26-state footprint. The majority of stores are in the Southeast and West, but Hibbett also has a presence in Ohio, Missouri, Indiana and Colorado.
Hibbett's lease at its current site is up at the end of 2014, Rosenthal said, so the company plans to move in to its new facility earlier that year.
"We're glad that we're staying in the local area, and we'll continue to grow," he said.
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