vineyard vines, the popular clothing line known for its signature smiling pink whale logo, is building a new corporate headquarters in Stamford and plans to add up to 200 jobs in the process.
The company, founded by Greenwich brothers Shep and Ian Murray in 1998, has received a $6 million loan from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development that will help finance the $15.6 million expansion project.
In an announcement Gov. Dannel Malloy said, “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. 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.”
Malloy added, “The Murray brothers, CEOs and cofounders of vineyard vines, are proof positive that if you are an entrepreneur and you have a dream, you can attain it right here in Connecticut.”
vineyard vines has more than 30 stores around the country with three in Connecticut — Greenwich, New Canaan and Westport, and its clothing and accessory lines are sold in about 600 nationwide as well as online.
After outgrowing its current headquarters in Stamford, vineyard vines looked for expansion possibilities in both New York and Connecticut. The company chose to lease their new headquarters at 181 Harbor Dr. in Stamford because the property met their physical and schedule requirements, while also increasing their ability to recruit top talent and maximize cost savings, according to the governor's office.
“When we started vineyard vines in 1998, we never imagined we’d be where we are today,” Ian Murray said. “You could say our business grew up in Connecticut, and because of our extremely successful partnership with the Governor’s office and Connecticut DECD, we will continue to grow in Connecticut.”
“Our new office space will put into practice the core values on which we founded vineyard vines, one of which is making vineyard vines a great place to work,” said Shep Murray.
The state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) will support the $15.6 million project with a $6 million, 10-year loan at 1 percent interest. Funding may be used to purchase machinery and equipment, make leasehold improvements, or offset architect and engineering costs among others.
“vineyard vines has been a dedicated, longtime member of our corporate community and I am pleased that they will continue to call Stamford home. 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,” Stamford Mayor David Martin said in a statement. “I have no doubt that vineyard vines will continue to make significant contributions in the years to come and look forward to working with them.”
If vineyard vines meets certain job retention and creation milestones, the company will be eligible for loan forgiveness. The conditions are:
- if all current positions are retained and 100 jobs are created in the first five years of the agreement, $3 million will be forgiven;
- if all current positions are retained and 150 jobs are created in that time frame, $4.5 million will be forgiven;
- and if all current positions are retained and 200 jobs are created then $6 million will be forgiven.
“DECD is proud to support the growth and expansion of vineyard vines,” said DECD commissioner Catherine Smith. “Our funding assures a company with strong Connecticut roots can remain in Connecticut and continue to put our residents to work in quality, high paying jobs for years to come.”
vineyard vines will also 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.