SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 10, 2013

Appleseed's planting new home

Company that started in Beverly is moving to Middleton

BY PAUL LEIGHTON
STAFF WRITER

---- — BEVERLY — Appleseed’s will soon be leaving the city where it began, but the clothing retailer is not going far.

The company plans to move out of its corporate headquarters on Tozer Road in August and into an office building in Middleton.

Appleseed’s Brands President Garth Greenier said the building, the Ferncroft Corporate Center, is being remodeled and will have a new or renovated conference center, fitness center, cafeteria and photo studio.

“As our company has grown and matured over the years, we came to the conclusion that we wanted to look for space that fit our personality a little bit better,” Greenier said. “The building is a little bit newer and has some amenities that are favorable to our employees.”

With the exception of an Appleseed’s store that will remain open in North Beverly, the relocation of the headquarters marks the end of a long association between Appleseed’s and the city.

The company began when Beverly businessman Sam Batchelder and three others opened the Johnny Appleseed’s mail-order catalog business on the second floor of a building in Beverly Farms in 1946.

The business expanded over the years into a multimillion-dollar operation under several owners, selling women’s and later men’s clothing through its catalogs and stores. The company dropped the “Johnny” from its name in 1986 and became known as Appleseed’s.

Appleseed’s employed more than 400 people in Beverly until it moved its call center and then its distribution center to Pennsylvania in 2008 and 2011, resulting in the loss of 200 local jobs.

Orchard Brands, Appleseed’s parent company, filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and eliminated about $420 million of debt in a financial restructuring.

Greenier said there will be no layoffs associated with the latest move. All 160 employees at the Tozer Road headquarters will move to the Middleton office, he said.

North Shore Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Robert Bradford said it’s good news that the Appleseed’s jobs will be staying on the North Shore.

“It’s important that people who live here have the opportunity to work here in good-paying jobs,” Bradford said.

Greenier acknowledged there was a sense of nostalgia about the company leaving Beverly.

“That’s kind of the sad part about it,” he said. “We’ve always enjoyed being in Beverly, we’ve always been part of the community. We’ll still have a retail store here. A lot of employees live in close proximity or in Beverly. We didn’t want to move far enough away that it would be an inconvenience for people.”

The Ferncroft Corporate Center is a 226,000-square-foot, eight-story office tower on Village Road near the Ferncroft Country Club. Appleseed’s will lease more than 43,000 square feet, according to The Davis Companies, which owns and manages the building.

Current anchor tenants in the building are SAS Institute and Super Media Services-East, a former Verizon subsidiary. The Davis Companies said it has made “significant capital improvements” in the building, including a new conference center and a renovated fitness center, cafeteria and lobby.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.