Russell Corp. has decided to close its Atlanta offices and shift most of those functions to sister companys Fruit of the Looms campus in Bowling Green, KY. The relocation is a continuation of the integration process started when Russell was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway in 2006 and became a division of the FTL subsidiary.
Over the last year, Spalding moved its headquarters from Springfield, MA, to Atlanta. Gary Barfield, EVP in charge of Russell Athletic and Spalding, described the latest move from Atlanta to Bowling Green as the “next step” in the ongoing effort to better share resources across Russells brands and FTL.
“What this really does, it gives us a position to grow the business by integrating our corporate strategy, streamlining operations and bringing product innovations to market quickly,” says Barfield. “We feel we can support all our brands and ultimately provide better service to our customers by centralizing operations and getting everybody under one roof.”
Barfield said a “few” jobs may be eliminated in duplicative areas, but the relocations main purpose was to combine forces.
Regarding business conditions, Barfield said, “Our team business is strong and our licensed bookstore business is doing well. At retail, its a little more of a struggle on the Russell side.”
Barfield said Russell Athletic is working on regaining share in basics, noting that the brand “was known for sweatshirts and t-shirts and we let that get away from us.” But the brand is also investing on the premium side in its Extreme Compression jerseys in football and Dri-Power collections.
Said Barfield, “Given the economy, we feel good about where we are. It could be better but it could be a lot worse.”