Urban Outfitters Announces Leadership Changes, Reveals Holiday Results

Urban Outfitters Inc. is mixing up the C-suite. 

The retailer — which counts Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, Terrain and Bhldn among its brands, in addition to rental subscription service Nuuly and a food and beverage business in the company portfolio — said Tuesday that Trish Donnelly will be leaving her post as chief executive officer of the Urban Outfitters brand at the end of the month. Sheila Harrington will take the reins as CEO of both the Urban Outfitters and Free People brands. 

“We thank Trish for her seven years of dedicated service to the company,” Richard A. Hayne, CEO of Urban Outfitters Inc., said in a statement. “During her tenure she built a strong talent team and the Urban brand grew revenues by over 10 percent.”

In addition, Gabrielle Conforti, chief merchandising officer of Urban, has been promoted to president of Urban Outfitters North America, while Emma Wisden will continue as managing director of Urban Outfitters Europe, leading the Urban Outfitters wholesale business. Both Conforti and Wisden will report directly to Harrington. 

The same day, Urban revealed total company net holiday sales, or sales for the two-month period ended Dec. 31, decreased 8.4 percent, year-over-year. Overall, comparable retail segment net sales across all brands also decreased by 9 percent. Urban credited the decline to store closures during the pandemic.  

By brand, comparable retail segment net sales increased 1 percent at Free People as casual and activewear continue to outperform but decreased 8 percent at Urban Outfitters and 12 percent at the Anthropologie Group. Wholesale segment net sales also decreased 1 percent. 

The company pointed out, however, that reduced sales in stores were partially offset by strong double-digit growth in digital channels. 

“Digital is more profitable,” Frank Conforti, co-president of Urban Outfitters and chief operating officer of the company, said during Tuesday’s virtual ICR Conference.  

Even so, the company is anticipating total gross profit margins for the fourth quarter to deleverage by several hundred basis points driven by higher logistic expenses related to e-commerce and increased store occupancy expenses. 

Shares of Urban Outfitters, which are up more than 16 percent year-over-year, closed up 5.79 percent Tuesday to $30.31 a piece.

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