Vineyard Vines, a Stamford-based clothing retailer that has grown to employ 180 people locally, plans to remain in the city, thanks to a $6 million loan from the state to help pay for a renovation that will allow the company to hire as many as 200 more employees over the next five years.
Started in 1998 by Greenwich brothers Shep and Ian Murray, Vineyard Vines will move from Brown House Road in Stamford to a 91,040-square-foot space at Shippan Landing at 181 Harbor Drive, a multibuilding property owned by George Comfort & Sons and Angelo, Gordon & Co.
Vineyard Vines has a store at 67 Elm St. in New Canaan.
The move is expected to take place in early 2015, after raw space is converted into the new headquarters. The state Department of Economic and Community Development will support the $15.6 million project with a $6-million, 10-year loan at 1 percent interest. Funding can be used to purchase machinery and equipment, make leasehold improvements or offset architect and engineering costs.
If all current positions are retained and 100 jobs are created in the first five years of the agreement, $3 million will be forgiven, and $4.5 million will be forgiven if all current positions are retained and 150 jobs are created in that time frame. Should Vineyard Vines retain the 150 jobs in place and create 200 more, then the $6 million will be forgiven.
"Our growth has been so exciting, and more space is critical to continue to support that growth," said Shep Murray, co-CEO with his brother Ian, in a statement. "With the help from great teams at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, George Comfort & Sons, CPG Architects and Jones Lang LaSalle, we found and are outfitting a space that will truly reflect the core values on which we founded and have built Vineyard Vines."
The Greenwich office of NGKF represented Vineyard Vines in its search, which early on focused on New York City and Westchester County, N.Y., but the Murrays were impressed by Shippan Landing and its management when approached by its representative at the Stamford office of CBRE, said James Ritman, NGKF executive vice president.
"This is an ideal site that resonates with the co-founders' vision and work lifestyle they have spent years building," Ritman, who attended Brunswick School in Greenwich with the brothers, said. "Their employees will thrive in the space the open floor plan affords them, along with enjoying the outdoor area beside the waterfront. The ability to have a boat right outside their office was compelling."
Stamford Mayor David Martin credited the company for remaining in the city.
"Vineyard Vines has been a dedicated, longtime member of our corporate community. Their tremendous growth has been one of Stamford's great success stories and has contributed in no small way to Stamford's reputation as a prime destination for business," he said.
The company's growth has even surprised its founders.
"When we started Vineyard Vines in 1998, we never imagined we'd be where we are today," Ian Murray said in a statement. "You could say our business grew up in Connecticut, and because of our extremely successful partnership with the governor's office and the Connecticut (Department of Economic and Community Development), we will continue to grow in Connecticut."
The company, which had $100 million in revenue in 2011, according to published reports, will be eligible for up to $8 million in tax credits through the state's Urban and Industrial Sites Reinvestment Tax Credit Program, as well as up to $500,000 in sales and use tax exemptions subject to approval from Connecticut Innovations.
"Vineyard Vines is a great Connecticut story of two brothers who, fed up with corporate life and determined to make it on their own, began selling their own line of ties nearly 20 years ago," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement. "Today, they are one of the leading retailers of clothing and accessories for men, women and children sold throughout the country and competing with the likes of L.L. Bean and J. Crew."