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Urban Outfitters adding staff to new Augusta call center

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An Urban Outfitters call center that opened in mid-August will bring on additional staffers by year’s end.

About 20 more employees are expected to join the 205-member workforce next week at the customer care center after it opened Aug. 18 at the former Mike’s Furniture store on Bobby Jones Expressway, said Bryan Whitney, the Urban Outfitters Contact Center director.

The company also will employ nearly 120 seasonal workers at the 40,000-square-foot center during the holiday season. In total, nearly 400 jobs will be created there within a five-year period, Whitney said.

“Our normal growth rate is about 30 percent, and that’s been the standard year over year,” he said.

A majority of the initial hires came out of the Trenton, S.C., call center, which had been operating in Urban Outfitter’s distribution center since 2005 but closed to add square footage to the distribution center’s returns department.

About 190 employees working at the Trenton facility shifted the 30 miles to the new Martinez center, which fields calls and e-mails from customers placing orders or seeking service assistance.

“Really there was no impact to any employees at all,” Whitney said. “The majority of them here are happy because they cut their drive down dramatically.”

Urban Outfitters is one of the first companies to take advantage of Columbia County’s “opportunity zone” designation, adopted in August 2011 and applying to an older commercial corridor off Bobby Jones Expressway and Washington Road.

The zone offers state tax credits for businesses relocating or expanding in the area, and firms that create at least two jobs receive a tax break of $3,500 for each position developed. It took nearly two years before the development authority received approval for the zone from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Urban Outfitters is a lifestyle speciality and clothing retail company that sells its products online, through catalogs and in stores in the United States, Canada and Europe. Brands such as Anthropologie, Free People, Terrain and BHLDN fall under the Urban Outfitters umbrella.

RETAIL STORE?

Though Urban Outfitters is expanding its retail presence, having recently opened an Urban Outfitters in Columbia and a Free People in Savannah, Ga., there are no plans to bring such a store here, said Bryan Whitney, the Urban Outfitters Contact Center director, but he didn’t rule out one in the future.

Whitney said the decision on where the company opens a store is partially based on the number of direct orders placed in a given location.

“You never know,” he said. “A store could be in the future. It just depends on market conditions.”

There are four Urban Outfitters in Georgia, three of them in Atlanta, and two in South Carolina.


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