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Billerica catalog company launches $49M Littleton expansion

June 11, 2015

Armed with $3.9 million in local and state incentives for real estate expansion, The Potpourri Group Inc. (PGI), a multi-channel catalog company, has kicked off a 450,000-square foot expansion project in Littleton, where it will relocate its call center and consolidate shipping operations.

The Billerica-based company has outgrown its current space in Northbridge, according to Lynn Tokarczyk, a consultant with Medway-based Business Development Strategies Inc., which announced PGI's expansion this week.

PGI broke ground on the new facility in Littleton last week, a state-of-the-art building that will help the company meet increasing demand from its customers, according to Tokarczyk, an expert in securing government incentives for businesses, who helped PGI secure them on the expansion. The incentives include a state tax credit, local real estate tax relief, and local property tax relief, Tokarczyk said.

The building will be located at 3 Distribution Center Cir., on land owned by a developer, MA Littleton Land LLC. PGI plans to lease the facility from the developer, Tokarczyk said.

COURTESY OF PGI - Billerica-based PGI is slated to open its new warehouse and call center facility in Littleton early next year. A rendering of the building is shown here.

In return, the $49 million project will help bolster the local tax base and stimulate the economy, according to Tokarczyk. In addition to the existing 227 permanent, full-time jobs PGI is moving to Littleton, another 130 will be created at the new facility, slated to open early next year, she said. The company will also offer seasonal employment during times of high order volume.

The company proposed the facility expansion project back in September, and local approvals were issued within a few months, according to Tokarczyk, who described Littleton officials as "pro-business,." in its eagerness to welcome PGI to town. "It's really access to the workforce in that region that was also very attractive to them," said Tokarczyk, of PGI's decision to grow in Littleton.

'Bursting at the seams'

PGI had considered moving its Northbridge operations out of state before the Littleton site was identified, according to Jonathan Fleischmann, president and CEO of PGI. But company executives believed it was important to maintain its local workforce in the interest of protecting the company's institutional knowledge, even though labor and freight costs were cheaper in some other states.

"If we had moved to Ohio, we would have been jettisoning (that knowledge)," Fleischmann said.

Distribution for 14 of the company's fifteen catalog titles will be handled at the new warehouse facility, which Fleischmann described as "highly automated." He said the company's need for greater capacity follows a series of acquisitions since the late 1990s when PGI was formed through a merger. Last summer, the company also inked a postage agreement with the U.S. Postal Service that provided discounts on postage. That has led to increased sales, Fleischmann said.

"We're just bursting at the seams," Fleischmann said.

Founded in 1963, PGI ships a wide variety of products directly to consumersfrom home decor to pet accessories, according to the company website.