New Albany calls the new outcrop of the New Albany Business Park its beauty and personal care campus.

Based on early returns, it could be dubbed Limited Brands Supplierland.

The village first lured contract packager Accel Inc., a 15-year supplier to Limited Brands Inc. founded by former Limited employee Tara Abraham, from its Lewis Center base in August.

Two more companies could be following, both suppliers to the Columbus-based specialty retailer and owner of the popular Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret chains. Village council has approved incentives for personal care product contract manufacturers Knowlton Development Corp. and Vee Pak Ohio.

If all three hit employment goals, the campus will have more than 500 workers developing, producing and packaging shampoos, lotions and cosmetics.

The two new companies are awaiting additional state support to be decided by the Ohio Department of Development in early December.

New Albany Director of Community Development Jennifer Chrysler said the village’s beauty and personal care business push gained traction after landing Accel, which also does work for other industries.

“Suppliers and customers like to be near each other,” she said. “Accel was a big catalyst.”

That and $6.7 million spent to improve roads, utilities and information technology make for a compelling pitch to companies.

“Once we started making headway with the infrastructure improvements, that got us a lot of exposure to site selectors,” Chrysler said. “Other companies see they can fit and they want to find out more.”

The 210-acre addition to the New Albany Business Park is one of four defined business clusters, including:

Research and information, a segment that includes operations for TJX Companies Inc. and Discover Financial Services.

Retail, with Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and Limited Stores LLC headquarters.

Health care, with Mount Carmel Health System’s New Albany Surgical Hospital and plans for a 115-bed medical facility from Cincinnati-based CommuniCare Health Services, a project that also received village incentives Nov. 16.

Right place, period

Knowlton, based in Knowlton, Quebec, plans to spend $55 million on a 250,000-square-foot manufacturing and research-and-development complex. The center is expected to open in 2012 with 100 to 150 jobs and could grow to 200 positions. The village OK’d a 100 percent real property tax abatement to be either 10 years or 15 years, depending on the company securing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, projected to save it as much as $8 million.

“Our new Central Ohio location will be a perfect addition to our facilities in Canada and Virginia, and it will enable us to further establish our position as a leader in the personal care and household products contract manufacturing business,” CEO John Bertuccini said in a statement.

The company, which runs facilities in Knowlton, suburban Toronto and Lynchburg, Va., said it has more than 60 customers, including Johnson & Johnson Services Inc., Unilever and Revlon Inc.

The site is at the northeast corner of Beech Road and Route 161.

Despite the local connections, Bertuccini said neither Limited Brands nor Accel played roles in the site selection.

“Central Ohio is within 500 miles of major distribution centers for several major KDC customers, making the location ideal,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Additionally, the region’s existing logistics infrastructure is among the most extensive in the nation and provides considerable speed and flexibility in shipping and receiving while helping to manage supply-chain costs. Those were the key factors in the decision.”

Building the foundation

Knowlton isn’t the only personal care and beauty business to praise the area’s geographic and logistic attributes: San Francisco-based Bare Escentuals Beauty Inc. opened a national distribution center in Groveport in 2007.

Vee Pak, a subsidiary of Countryside, Ill.-based Vee Pak Inc., plans to build a 105,000-square-foot plant that would employ 120 workers with an annual payroll of more than $3.8 million. Its incentive package – a full property tax abatement for seven or 10 years – is projected to save the company $1 million.

Like Knowlton’s deal, the length of the tax break will depend on LEED certification. Vee Pak executives did not return calls for this article.

Vee Pak, like Knowlton, develops and makes personal care products – shampoos, lotions, soaps and antibacterial products – and has worked with Limited Brands for 10 years, according to information from the retailer. It has three sister companies, including one outside Dayton, that design and print product labels.

Accel plans a $20 million, 417,000-square-foot facility projected to employ more than 200 workers.

Health-and-beauty industry analyst Karen Grant of NPD Group Inc. said beauty product sales, previously resilient to economic fluctuations, slid during the recession.

They are on the rise again, particularly skin care products. According to the Port Washington, N.Y.-based market researcher, sales across all beauty aid segments were up through the first half of the year, except for body care products, which were down 5 percent. The company tracks sales of fragrances, skin care and makeup products sold in U.S. department stores, so its figures wouldn’t include results from Limited Brands’ Bath & Body Works subsidiary, which has been outpacing its 2009 results this year.

614-220-5462 | deaton@bizjournals.com

Accel, Knowlton, Vee Pak form hub near Limited Brands in New Albany
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