Middleton-based toy maker American Girl is relocating its corporate offices to a new, yet unconfirmed, location either in Madison or elsewhere in Dane County later this year, the company said Friday.
Founded in 1986 by Pleasant Rowland, American Girl also plans to consolidate warehouse operations at its 400,000-square-foot DeForest distribution center, and across two other Mattel-owned facilities by June. American Girl currently takes up two warehouses and distribution facilities, totaling 600,000 square feet, in Middleton.
Since 1998, California-based toy company Mattel has owned American Girl, which has 12 retail stores across the nation that sell its popular dolls and other toy products.
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“We hope to transition to a new space at some point (between July and September),” company spokesperson Julie Parks said. “We’re actively searching for a new, collaborative workspace in the Madison or surrounding area.”
The company additionally plans to “upgrade and align” its operating systems across Mattel’s larger distribution network to “create more efficient product flow, timely replenishments and reduced shipping expenses, which ultimately results in a better and more cost-effective customer experience,” Parks said.
The relocation will affect 55 Middleton warehouse and operations employees, Parks said, adding that its current Dane County workforce includes 338 staff members, and 735 regular full- and part-time and seasonal workers across the U.S.
It comes as American Girl has shifted to a fully remote-contact center and a hybrid workplace amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With that in mind, the new corporate space would accommodate 150 people at any given time, Parks said.
The toy maker is encouraging affected staff members to apply for 40 new positions being added in DeForest, as well as open roles at Mattel distribution centers located in Jonestown, Pennsylvania, and San Bernardino, California.
Transition assistance is available to eligible employees not seeking to reapply, Parks said.
“That includes severance, health benefits and outplacement services, and is provided to all benefit eligible employees ... those working at least 30 (plus) hours (per) week,” Parks said.
The 40 new positions are permanent and will support the “incremental work” of combining Middleton warehouse operations with the DeForest facility, Parks said, adding that no expansion of the DeForest space is currently necessary.
If an expansion were to happen, Michelle Lawrie, village of DeForest community development director, said the municipality would welcome it. But an approval process would apply, Lawrie said.
“We love to be a place where businesses want to grow,” Lawrie said of the hope that American Girl also chooses to bring its headquarters to DeForest. “We are in good communication with (the company).”