Tedford “Ted” Marlow will retire in August as chief executive officer of Urban Outfitters Inc.’s Urban Outfitters Group, bringing to a close his second stint as head of the brand.
Marlow was president of the Urban brand from 2001 to 2010. He returned as ceo of the Urban Outfitters Group in 2012, one month after Glen Senk stepped down as ceo of the Philadelphia-based parent company.
Earlier in his career, Marlow was president and ceo of Henri Bendel and held executive posts with Saks Fifth Avenue, where he was responsible for development of the retailer’s private label assortment, and Chico’s FAS Inc.
Richard Hayne, ceo of the company, pointed out that, upon Marlow’s arrival in 2001, the UO nameplate had 43 stores in North America and two in Europe, with sales “just north of $150 million.” Today, the company operates 195 stores in North America and 43 in Europe, with numerous international concessions, a global direct-to-consumer business, and sales on track to exceed last year’s $1.4 billion.
“When Ted returned to the business in the spring of 2012, he told me he only wanted to work for a few additional years,” Hayne continued on a conference call. “There is no way any of us could have anticipated how tumultuous those three years would be for the brand, but, in true Ted Marlow style, he hunkered down, fought through adversity and came out on top.”
The Urban brand has in recent quarters resumed sales growth after a long stretch of declines. In the quarter ended April 30, net sales grew 6.5 percent, to $295.7 million, and comparable sales advanced 5 percent.
But top-line gains have come at a cost to the bottom line. Corporate gross margin last quarter declined to 33.3 percent of sales, with a part of the drop attributed to what the company called “lower initial margins at the Urban Outfitters brand.” Net income declined 12.6 percent, to $32.8 million, and sales were up 7.7 percent to $739 million. Both the top- and bottom-line results, reported late Monday, were below analysts’ consensus estimates.
Calls to the company concerning succession plans weren’t returned.