Urban Outfitters CEO Sees Hope in ‘Going-out’ Fashions

Urban Outfitters Inc. just barely eked out a profit last year, but cofounder, chairman and chief executive officer Richard Hayne is seeing signs of a kind of reawakening. 

“We’re particularly excited by the recent uptick in demand for ‘going-out’ type apparel and believe this bodes well for our spring and summer seasons,” Hayne said as the company reported retail results. 

Count that as one more sign of loosening after a tough year.

But while more people are getting vaccinated and the COVID-19 caseload is down from its peak, there are growing warnings from medical experts that it is still too early for a return to normal life, with many people unvaccinated and new variants threatening. Despite those warnings, restrictions are starting to ease in some places, such as Texas, which on Tuesday said it would drop its mask mandate and allow businesses to reopen at full capacity. 

Retailers are certainly ready to put 2020 behind them.

Urban Outfitters’ net income for the fourth quarter grew to $28.6 million, or 29 cents a diluted share, from earnings of $19.5 million, or 20 cents, a year ago.

Adjusted earnings per share of 30 cents came in 2 cents ahead of the 28 cents analysts projected. 

Sales for the three months ended Jan. 31 slipped to $1.1 billion from $1.2 billion a year earlier. 

Digital sales rose at a double-digit clip, but it wasn’t enough to overcome in-store declines. By brand, comparable retail sales increased 6 percent at Free People, but fell 6 percent at the company’s namesake chain and dropped 11 percent at the Anthropologie Group. 

“As we begin our new fiscal year, we are encouraged by the positive sales results all three brands delivered in North America quarter-to-date,” Hayne said. 

Like most other retailers in a year dominated by the coronavirus, Urban Outfitters logged a sales decline in 2020 — although the company did manage to adjust enough to just barely post a profit. 

Net income for the 12 months tallied $1.2 million, or 1 cent a diluted share, down from $168.1 million, or $1.67. Sales slipped 13.4 percent to $3.4 billion from $4 billion in 2019.


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