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Stihl continues expansion in Virginia Beach with purchase of former Lillian Vernon property

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In a move that continues its expansion mode in Virginia Beach, Stihl Inc. said Thursday that it has purchased the former Lillian Vernon property.  The 62-acre site, vacant for some time, is located at 2600 London Bridge Blvd. and includes an 850,000-square-foot building.

Stihl, the country’s No. 1 manufacturer of gasoline powered, handheld outdoor power equipment, indicated in a press release that the purchase was part of a strategic plan for growth. It said it has no immediate plans for the building, although it could be used in the future for manufacturing, warehousing, or both. Another option would be to sub lease parts of the building.

“We have enjoyed several years of record growth in sales and market share and are reaching capacities in our warehouse and manufacturing facilities,” Peter Mueller, executive vice president of operations for Stihl, said in a statement. “We were very fortunate that a solution existed so close. The amount of building space, adjacency to our guide bar plant property, and proximity to our existing warehouse across the street all made this property most attractive.”

A German-based company with its U. S. headquarters in Virginia Beach, Stihl currently has more than one million square feet of manufacturing and warehousing on 90 acres of land near Lynnhaven Parkway. The Lillian Vernon purchase expands the company’s presence to more than 150 acres. “The economy is showing signs of recovery with manufacturing and small business taking the lead,” Mueller said. “”Our immediate focus is on completing our present expansion and the jobs it will create.”

Stihl is in the midst of building a 53,000-square-foot expansion to its existing facility and plans to add 52 new jobs over the next three years. It’s already one of the city’s largest employers, with 2,100 workers.

Stihl, which reportedly paid just more than $18 million for the new property, said loans weren’t needed, nor did it seek economic assistance from the city. Lillian Vernon, a catlog company that later became an online retailer, originally bought the property in 1988 for a distribution center. It moved its headquarters from New York to the site in 2006. By then, Lillian Vernon had been bought out. Its current owner, citing a drop in sales, closed the Virginia Beach headquarters last year.

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