By  on August 14, 2007

Seeking to get merchandise to stores and customers quicker, Macy's Inc. will build a state-of-the-art distribution center in Minooka, Ill., approximately 50 miles southwest of Chicago.

The 850,000-square-foot facility will open in early spring, service the 63 stores that make up the Macy's North division (formerly Marshall Field's) and replace an existing distribution center on Diversey Avenue in Chicago. Macy's is selling the existing property.

"[The new facility] will have the newest equipment for moving merchandise from vendor shipments to the stores. The amount of time merchandise is in the distribution center will be measured in minutes, not in days or weeks," said a Macy's spokesman.

"We had very specific requirements for purchasing an existing facility that would be highly efficient and could move a larger volume of goods more quickly to the sales floors of our stores," Macy's vice chairman Tom Cole said in a statement. "Minooka represented an optimal combination of easy access to interstate transportation networks serving the region and the near-term availability of a large, one-story distribution facility with room for expansion to serve future needs of our rapidly expanding direct-to-consumer businesses. While our current Chicago distribution center — which contains 1.55 million square feet spread over six stories of a building developed in stages since the 1930s — has served the company well for decades, it is antiquated and inefficient for moving merchandise to meet current standards in the retailing industry."

Since its takeover of May Department Stores Co. and the conversion of most May doors into Macy's in the fall, Macy's has been experiencing flagging sales. However, the retailer is working to get out the kinks in its new national Macy's chain and has been streamlining and updating its logistics network for efficiencies in merchandise flow. A direct-to-consumer center opened in Portland, Tenn., in June, and another being built in Goodyear, Ariz., is scheduled to open in the spring.

The facility in Minooka will employ 210 full- and part-time associates, compared with 350 workers at the current center, leading to some cost savings over the long term. It could be expanded to help serve macys.com, the spokesman said.

The furniture clearance store in the Chicago distribution center will be relocated to a retail center near the Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, Ill., which will open in the fourth quarter of 2007.The $27 billion Macy's operates more than 850 department stores, as well as macys.com, bloomingdales.com and Bloomingdale's By Mail. Macy's Logistics operates about 20 distribution centers. The logistics division president is Peter Longo.

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