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Planners OK moving plan for marketing

Agency teams with Vera Bradley

– An investment of up to $2 million is on track to proceed at a Fort Wayne marketing firm looking to be closer to Vera Bradley operations.

The Allen County Plan Commission approved a rezoning request Thursday for Britton Marketing & Design Group, 1415 Coliseum Blvd. W., which will allow a move from its present site to across the road from the handbag maker’s southwest Allen County location.

The rezoning request is subject to final approval by the county commissioners in coming weeks.

Under a proposed deal, Britton would transfer into an office and warehouse complex after it is built on the south side of Lafayette Center Road, south of General Motors Co.’s Allen County truck plant. Britton plans to lease the building from Great Dane Realty.

Co-founder Susan Britton and Vera Bradley spokeswoman Melissa Schenkel have said the development is in the exploratory stage, but the project would include construction of a 20,000-square-foot building that could begin in the spring and finish by next fall.

Britton would be behind Vera Bradley’s design center, which is near the manufacturers’ distribution center.

The company is Britton’s largest customer, so the businesswoman said it makes sense to move near the manufacturer that is undergoing an expansion. Last year, Vera Bradley Inc. invested $22.5 million to nearly double its distribution center and has added 150 new jobs.

In 2011, the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association presented Britton Marketing its Retail Award for Creativity Innovation and Excellence during a conference in San Francisco for work on the 2010 Vera Bradley winter catalog.

RetailSails, a New York-based research and consulting firm, recently named Vera Bradley stores among the most well-managed outlets in the nation. Besides quilted cotton handbags, the company is known for its female luggage, accessories and home décor items.

Vera Bradley, which has 76 retail locations nationwide, is in a growth mode having opened 37 stores in the past two years.