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Urban Outfitters reports tough holiday; CEO to depart

Urban Outfitters reported dismal holiday sales and announced several management changes.

The company announced that Trish Donnelly, CEO of the Urban Outfitters Group, will be leaving as of Jan. 31, to pursue a new career opportunity. She will be succeeded by Sheila Harrington, who will become CEO for both Urban Outfitters Group and Free People Group. 

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

Additionally, Gabrielle Conforti, chief merchandising officer for the Urban Outfitters brand, has been promoted to president, Urban Outfitters North America.  Emma Wisden will continue as managing director, Urban Outfitters Europe, and will lead the Urban Outfitters brand wholesale business.  

The retailer said that total company sales during the two-month holiday period (ended Dec. 21) fell 8.4% and comparable sales declined 9% amid pandemic-related declines in store traffic. By brand, sales were up 1% at Free People, down 8% at Urban Outfitters, and down 12% at Anthropologie. Wholesale net sales decreased 1%.

The retailer noted that same-store sales across its portfolio have “rebounded nicely” during January. However, it expects profits to be pressured during the fourth quarter due, in part, to heightened delivery and logistics expenses because of online increases.

For the eleven months ended December 31, total company net sales decreased 14.3% over the same period last year. Comparable retail segment net sales decreased 12%, driven by negative retail store net sales due to mandated store closures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and lower store productivity once opened, partially offset by strong double-digit growth in the digital channel. Wholesale segment net sales decreased 42%.

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