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Urban Outfitters Names New CEO and Shakes Up Leadership Ranks

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Samantha McDonald
·2 min read
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Urban Outfitters Inc. has named a new CEO for its namesake label.

The fashion group — also parent to brands including Anthropologie, Free People, Nuuly and Terrain — announced yesterday the appointment of Sheila Harrington to the top post at Urban Outfitters. She will enter the role, as well as hold onto her position as CEO of Free People, when current Urban Outfitters CEO Trish Donnelly departs at the end of the month to pursue a new career opportunity.

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What’s more, Gabrielle Conforti, who serves as chief merchandising officer at Urban Outfitters, was promoted to president of Urban Outfitters North America, while Emma Wisden will continue as managing director of Urban Outfitters Europe and lead the brand’s wholesale business. Both Conforti and Wisden will report to Harrington.

“We thank Trish for her seven years of dedicated service to the company. During her tenure, she built a strong, talented team, and the Urban brand grew revenues by over 10%,” Urban Outfitters Inc. CEO Richard Hayne said in a statement. “I congratulate Sheila, Gabrielle and Emma on their promotions and added responsibility.”

The announcement came in tandem with the release of the Philadelphia-based company’s holiday sales report. For the months of November and December, Urban Outfitters Inc. saw an 8.4% drop in revenues, while comps decreased 9% due to reduced store traffic as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the group, those same-store sales were partially offset by strong double-digit growth in e-commerce.

By brand, comps rose 1% at Free People but fell 8% at Urban Outfitters and 12% at Anthropologie. Wholesale segment sales also sank 1%.

For the 11 months ended Dec. 31, revenues plummeted 14.3% over the same period last year. Comps tumbled 12% as government-mandated restrictions on nonessential retailers in the spring led to the widespread shutdown of its brick-and-mortar fleet. Even when stores reopened, Urban Outfitters Inc. noted “lower store productivity.” The wholesale division was also down 42%.

URBN shares declined more than 8% in Wednesday premarket trading. Since the start of 2020, its stock has grown upwards of 16%.