December 16, 2017
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Online retailer Wayfair to add 950 jobs in Bangor, Brunswick

By Darren Fishell and Nick McCrea, BDN Staff
Updated:
BDN file | BDN
BDN file | BDN
Online home furnishings company Wayfair will open a pair of facilities in Maine, bringing 450 jobs to Bangor, at the L.L. Bean call center seen here, and 500 to Brunswick.

BANGOR, Maine — The online home furnishings giant Wayfair will open a pair of contact centers in Maine, bringing 450 jobs to Bangor and 500 to Brunswick, the company confirmed Thursday.

The Boston-based competitor of retailers such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Amazon and Target anticipates moving in August to the call center occupied by L.L. Bean, at the corners of Maine Avenue and Godfrey Boulevard.

The jobs in Bangor will primarily handle customer service calls while staff in Brunswick will be a sales team to handle inquiries from individual customers and others, such as interior designers, who are looking for more guidance navigating the more than 7 million home products the company offers online.

Jane Carpenter, a spokeswoman for Wayfair, said the company isn’t revealing its timeline for getting to its full employment projections in Bangor or Brunswick.

It plans to begin operating in Brunswick in June, where it will bring on an inside sales and service team at Brunswick Landing. At 500 employees, it would be the former Navy base’s single largest employer.

“This is purely to accommodate growth,” Liz Graham, Wayfair’s senior vice president of customer service and sales, said in a telephone interview.

The online-only retailer reported it had about 4.6 million customers in the third quarter of 2015, up from 2.9 million for the same period in 2014, with rising revenue per customer in each quarter since the end of 2012.

Steve Levesque, executive director at the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, said Wayfair signed a lease Wednesday for 40,000 square feet of the property’s former Navy Exchange building. Currently, the former base hosts about 850 jobs across 83 employers.

Levesque said the company’s decision to come to Maine helps to raise the profile of Bangor, Brunswick Landing and the state when seeking to attract new businesses.

“You have a multinational company like this that is a huge household name, I think it helps all of Maine that a company like this has chosen to make such a significant investment in two communities in the state,” Levesque said in a telephone interview.

Graham said the company chose the locations in Maine for multiple reasons, including the proximity to its headquarters in Boston and the existing pool of workers with experience in customer service.

Officials at L.L. Bean confirmed late last month that they had been asked to vacate the building a month earlier than expected in order to accommodate a new tenant. L.L Bean had about 200 year-round employees, but had higher counts around the holiday season. The company announced plans to close the facility in 2014.

While about 80 percent of those full-time L.L. Bean employees opted to work from home or take other jobs with the company, Graham said that seasonal workforce holds potential for hiring at Wayfair, which expects to more than double L.L. Bean’s headcount.

“Generally, there’s a deep talent pool to talk to and the college market is definitely appealing,” Graham said.

Wayfair, which went public in 2014, has plans to grow internationally — it does much of its business in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Germany — and has increased its headcount dramatically as it invests more money in gaining customers.

The company had 3,251 employees at the end of September 2015, up from 2,353 at the end of 2014, according to its most recent earnings statement.

Those efforts have boosted its customer base and revenue, but the company has not yet turned the corner to profitability.

For the first three quarters of 2015, Wayfair boosted revenue by about two-thirds compared with the previous year, to $1.5 billion, but posted a $62 million net loss. The company (NYSE: W) is due to release earnings for the fourth quarter of 2015 on Feb. 25.

It sells products from more than 7,000 suppliers across different websites, branded as Wayfair.com, AllModern, Birch Lane, DwellStudio and Joss & Main.

Its flagship site seeks to compete with other mass-market retailers while its other sites generally compete with higher-end retailers, according to its most recent quarterly investor presentation.

In years ahead, the company hopes to capture the growing share of home goods sales done online. It estimates that the home goods market will grow to $297 billion by 2023 with online sales at least doubling its share, making up as much as 30 percent of those sales by 2023.

Wayfair serves as a marketplace for those products, some of which it warehouses itself at locations in Kentucky and Utah and others that are ordered and shipped direct from other retailers around the country.

Bangor’s City Council will be asked during a meeting Monday night to consider the terms of a lease that would allow the company to move into the 30,000-square-foot building at the intersection of Maine Avenue and Godfrey Boulevard.

Preparations for the new tenant will begin May 1, with Wayfair expecting to move in Aug. 1, according to the city.

Under the terms of the seven-year lease, Wayfair will pay $16,250 per month in rent, increasing to $17,725 after 60 months. The lease includes two options for five-year extensions.

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.

 


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