Urban Outfitters, the Philadelphia retailer that caters to the sartorial needs of 18- to- 28-year-olds, is closing in on a milestone: the opening of its 100th store next month. And the fact the 100 mark will be achieved in Copenhagen underscores the growing importance of Urban's international business.
"The international business produces a positive bottom line," said Tedford Marlow, president of Urban Outfitters. "It's been productive for us."
The company opened its first store overseas in 1997 in London. It now operates three units there, and one each in Dublin and Glasgow, and Manchester and Birmingham, England.
"With the foothold we have in the U.K., we decided to look at other opportunities in the European market," Marlow said. "We decided the best way would be to cross the [English] Channel." In addition to the Copenhagen store, Urban Europe will open a unit in Stockholm in September. The company is also considering locations in Sweden and Belgium. "We have a location in Antwerp that we're excited about."
Many specialty retailers have store fleets in the 500 to 1,000 range. Urban, which has been in business for 35 years, takes a deliberately restrained approach. "We've grown dramatically over the last five years and doubled our store count," Marlow said. "There are opportunities for continued expansion in the U.S. We feel comfortable opening 15 stores a year worldwide. This year, we're going to open 13 to 15 stores in the U.S. and two to three in Europe."
Martin Parker, managing director of Urban Europe, said the company tailors the product mix to local tastes. "It's important that you don't plunk everything down" that sells in the U.S., he said. "We have a wish to work with local designers and local brands to add that Scandinavian flavor. We're not assuming that the mix in Copenhagen will be the same as in the U.K. There's only a 50 percent overlap between the U.K. and the U.S. When we move to Scandinavia, we're looking for a 25 percent twist [overlap]."
Urban in the U.K. features Anglomania by Vivienne Westwood, Girbaud, Erotokritos, Paul & Joe, Sister and Sonia Rykiel. "We sell brands equivalent to those at Selfridges," Parker said, adding that Urban's closest competitor is Topshop. The Web site for Urban Europe features frilly blouses, while the U.S. site shows men's wear dresses and plaid tops."The seismic shift in fashion began about two quarters earlier in Europe than it did in the U.S.," Richard Jaffe, a retail analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, said in a research note. "European customers' acceptance of the fashion change, evident in an 11 percent comp-store sales increase at Urban Europe, bodes well for future customer acceptance in the U.S., possibly in the second half of 2006." Urban's disappointing results in the first quarter were blamed in part on consumers' ambivalence about the new fashion silhouette, which caused Jaffe to trim his 2007 earnings per share estimate to $1.15 from $1.25.
Urban Europe's prospects seem bright. The five-year objective calls for 30 to 40 stores across the Continent. There will be 10 locations operating by yearend. "The long-term ambition is to be in all the major capitals and second cities," Parker said. "We approached Scandinavia and Benelux because we thought they were the closest to us fashion-wise. We could look at Oslo and Helsinki if the Scandinavian stores work well. We want to look at the German and Spanish markets and Eastern Europe."
From overseeing America’s fastest-growing speciality retailers to codifying cool, WWD talked to the women who are leading the way for the future of beauty. Check out our Instagram Stories to see how these women built today and are creating tomorrow. (📸: @hannah_khymych) #wwdbeauty
For @laperlalingerie's spring 2018 show, the brand chose to host their event at @thevenetianmacao. With Chinese megastars @bingbing_fan and @hubing in attendance, La Perla debuted a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired collection. The show marked the start of Sands Macao Fashion Week, which runs from October 19 to 24 — the city’s first such event. Pictured here are models backstage with glimmering eyes. #wwdfashion (📷: Cheuk-Yin To)
Trending for spring 2018: top stitch design. Gone are the days of stitch just for seams — designers are using the once-minimal detail to create strong decorative elements. (📷: Paola Testa; Styled by @andrew_shang) #wwdfashion
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)