A month after completing a $15.4 billion acquisition of Jarden Corp. — the owner of Mr. Coffee and Sunbeam appliances — Sandy Springs-based Newell Brands has decided to move to a new home.
Newell said Friday it will relocate its headquarters this fall to Hoboken, N.J. But a spokeswoman said only a “handful” of the company’s 1,000 metro Atlanta workers will leave the area.
As part of the plan, the $16 billion consumer products giant — whose brands include Sharpie, Elmer’s and Rubbermaid among many others — is getting about $27 million in tax incentives over the next decade from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
While the job impact apparently won’t be significant, the move chips the roster of Fortune 500 companies based in Atlanta — a selling point used by economic recruiters wooing new prospects.
“A decision like that is typically done by a few (executives), so I suspect there was a particular subjective reason,” said Jay Garner, president of Garner Economics, an Atlanta-based consultant on issues like site selection. “But it does create a question with potential investors on why a headquarters would move. And especially from Atlanta to New Jersey.”
Newell, known as Newell Rubbermaid until the acquisition of Florida-based Jarden, had recently moved from its previous corporate offices in Sandy Springs to smaller digs nearby that are half the size. The bulk of the metro Atlanta workforce will remain in those offices.
When the Jarden deal was announced, CEO Michael Polk said he did not expect to add new jobs at the metro Atlanta headquarters. He reasoned that because the company’s brands are spread across the country in places like Charlotte, Miami, Massachusetts and Atlanta, it made more sense to keep leaders closer to their homes than in a centralized headquarters.
“I think it is risky to move people around, ” he said. “You end up losing talent doing that.”
The Georgia Department of Economic Development declined to comment on whether its leaders knew about Newell’s intentions or offered any incentives to keep the headquarters here.
The company has about 60,000 widely dispersed employees. About 250 to 300 will move into the new location in Hoboken, said Racquel White, spokeswoman for Newell Brands. Many won’t travel far, she added.
“We are creating an advanced design team and we have those e-commerce employees now in Manhattan,” she said. “This is an area we want to grow. It allows us to expand our e-commerce and design.”
“Just a few key company roles are moving” from metro Atlanta, White said. “I don’t have an exact number yet, but it’s more like a handful.”
Polk, in a written statement, said the new headquarters “will serve as an important business hub for our executive team, certain corporate functions and the company’s Transformation Office. It will also enable us to continue expanding our global e-Commerce and Design teams.”
Newell Rubbermaid moved its headquarters to metro Atlanta from Illinois in 2003.
One of its Sandy Springs neighbors is Mercedes, which last year moved its U.S. headquarters from Montvale, N.J., bringing with it nearly 1,000 jobs. Georgia provided Mercedes with a package of incentives potentially worth, coincidentally, about $27 million.
With a few exceptions, metro Atlanta has typically been the destination for corporate relocations, not the departure point.
Burger giant Wendy’s moved its headquarters from Ohio to the metro area in 2008 after merging with Arby’s, but the pairing was short-lived and Wendy’s moved back to Ohio after selling Arby’s to Atlanta-based Roark Capital in 2011.
The former Jarden has two corporate centers: Boca Raton and Norwalk, Conn., which is about 50 miles north of Manhattan.
“The new overall company will be headquartered in Hoboken, but have three hubs,” White said.
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