International fashion retailer SHEIN just started operating its 659,000 square foot Midwest distribution in Whitestown this summer, but the e-commerce company is already expanding the facility by another 50%. It also plans to build a second 550,000 square foot warehouse at its Boone County campus. The company, which currently employs around 750 people, says the expansion will also double its workforce to around 1,400 by the end of 2025.
In an interview with Inside Indiana Business, General Manager Chuck Comwell credits Boone State and County for the successful launch.
“I have to tell you, I’ve done several startups, and this is the smoothest startup I’ve ever had,” Cornwell said. “We were able to build this facility in a few months and get it up and running. They made it easy for us. »
LISTEN: Cornwell explains the economic impact the fashion retailer is having in central Indiana.
The expansion will bring the company’s total footprint in Indiana to nearly 1.5 million square feet.
While the construction, staffing and start of operations have been positive for SHEIN, Cornwell says placing the facility in central Indiana has brought economic benefits to the community.
Indiana University Kelley School of Business conducted an economic analysis of the distribution facility. The study found that the facility will generate $175 million per year in economic benefits for Whitestown, Boone County and surrounding counties when fully operational.
Economic value climbs to $230 million a year by 2025 after the fashion and accessories retailer hits 1,400 employees, according to the Kelley School study.
“I think it was important that we did this study to find out what impact we’re actually having on the community,” Cornwell said. “It’s just interesting to know and let everyone know what a company can bring to a community.”
There are also downstream economic effects. The Kelley study finds that each new SHEIN job generates 0.61% more indirect jobs, such as local contractors and suppliers. As the company tries to staff 1,000 people by the end of the year, that equates to around 600 ancillary jobs.
“Boone County’s prime location along I-65 makes us attractive to a variety of manufacturing and logistics businesses, so it’s no surprise that SHEIN has already experienced such rapid growth,” said said Molly Whitehead, executive director of Boone County Economic Development Corp. “We look forward to working with SHEIN in the times to come.”
The company says the average hourly wage for warehouse workers is $19.68, plus 90% of health, dental and vision insurance premiums. Cornwell says competition is tough, especially in the Boone County Corridor, as it attracts an increasing number of logistics facilities.
“We just don’t want it to be a typical warehouse job. We want it somewhere where it can be a career. And for them to stay for years to come,” Cornwell said.
SHEIN was founded in China, but it also has three operational centers in Los Angeles, Singapore and Guangzhou, China. The Indiana factory is SHEIN’s only warehouse outside of Los Angeles. It is also the biggest.
The company says the Midwest location could potentially cut shipping times for US customers by three to four days.
SHEIN says it intends to open another distribution facility in southern California in 2023 and another in the northeastern United States thereafter.
“As a global fashion, beauty and lifestyle retailer, our expansion into Whitestown reflects the strength of Indiana’s workforce community and our unwavering commitment to serving American customers,” said Mark Aitken, Vice President, US Public Affairs, SHEIN.
The Whitestown factory is not responsible for the manufacture of garments. He receives goods from SHEIN suppliers and fulfills customer orders. A big part of his job is dealing with customer feedback. These products are then inspected, sorted and redistributed.
At any one time, the facility along I-65 has three million items of dresses, jeans and apparel. Cornwell says about 60,000 pieces come out every 24 hours.
For more on the economic impact of the Whitestown facility, see the full report study here.