Random House Inc. plans to make a multimillion-dollar investment in the expansion of its Westminster, Md., book distribution center, and in mid-June 2000 -- plans to shift distribution of all Bantam Doubleday Dell and Broadway Books titles from its Des Plaines, Ill., facilities.

Erik Engstrom, Random president and COO, described the decision to close the two Des Plaines facilities in a memo to staff there as "very painful," but it has been based on the need to consolidate distribution in the single building with the largest capacity, which was the one at Westminster. Des Plaines will continue in full operation until June 30, 2000, and the company hopes to be able to relocate some of the staff to Westminster after that.

Engstrom also said that the service center in Jackson, Tenn., which currently handles Ballantine Books, is expected to become the future consolidated location for Random's distributed titles; Ballantine titles will be moved to Westminster in the coming year.

In a related announcement, John F. Gambatese, senior v-p, distribution, in Westminster, will retire at the end of January, after 32 years of "exceptional service." As a man whose tenure went back to the days of Bennett Cerf and Alfred Knopf, he had, the announcement said, become "something of a legend in himself." Phyllis Mandel has been appointed v-p for Random's distribution and fulfillment, effective February 1. She has been v-p of fulfillment, based in Des Plaines.