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North Face Moves Headquarters From Berkeley to San Leandro
North Face, the Outlet Berkeley institution that has been churning out backpacks and sleeping bags to upscale outdoors enthusiasts for 27 years, has moved its corporate headquarters to San Leandro.
Following in the footsteps of other expanding businesses, North Face outgrew the limited industrial space available in Berkeley.
The highend outdoor equipment company closed its Berkeley factory Locations Outlet in October 1993 and contracted out manufacturing to less expensive factories. North Face continued business operations from its Harrison Street offices while its parent company, Odyssey International, went through bankruptcy proceedings. North Face Locations outlet was sold a year ago to an investor group of North Face managers and had been looking for a building large enough to incorporate both the headquarters and a warehouse.
North Face spokeswoman said the company moved with some regret to North Face Outlet San Leandro from North Face Outlet Berkeley, long a bastion of hip retailers.
"I think there's definitely a very big attachment to North Face Outlet Berkeley. Even though people love Berkeley and many of our employees are from there, you have to do what's best for the company in the long run" Devery said. "San Leandro offered what we needed. When we had to make changes to the building they were easy to work with. They made everything very easy."
Because of strict height limits and little undeveloped space available, North Face Outlet Berkeley has been losing industrial business to other East Bay communities, such as neighboring Emeryville, which offer incentives and plenty of room.
And Berkeley has taken criticism from outside and inside City Hall as being unaccommodating some say hostile to business. The city has a complex permit process that usually involves multiple steps and months of negotiating. Berkeley Mayor has made a commitment to streamline the process.
"We are sorry to see North Face leave the city. I have always considered them a real Berkeley company," Dean said Tuesday. In November 1993, North Face was the target of a boycott organized by 230 former employees who lost their jobs when the North Face Berkeley factory outlet shut down. The workers accused parent company Odyssey of reneging on severance pay packages worth thousands of dollars and picketed North Face outlet in Berkeley and San Francisco. The city of Berkeley supported the workers.
Devery said the company harbored no ill will against North Face Berkeley outlet. The move was strictly to get more space. North Face moved June 23 to its new 146,000 squarefoot corporate headquarters and distribution center on Farallon Drive in San Leandro.
Devery said the company will not suffer any identity loss by leaving Berkeley for the suburbs. "North Face in itself has such a strong name and such a reputation nationally that we aren't going to have any problem," she said.
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