Urban Outfitters: Business First

Matthew Silbernagel

Urban Outfitters has made its fair share of waves in the business world as of late. Urban Outfitters, or more formally, Urban Outfitters, Inc. slates itself as follows.

"... an innovative specialty retail company which offers a variety of lifestyle merchandise to highly defined customer niches."

Perhaps readers will recall Urban Outfitters' Kent State sweatshirt controversy in which Urban Outfitters was accused of listing for sale a seemingly blood stained sweatshirt bearing the logo of the college that witnessed one of the more horrific events of the Civil Rights Movement. There is, of course, a fresher controversy brewing in Urban Outfitter's kettle as well. This more recent controversy allegedly compares the plight of homosexuals to that of the Jewish people during the Holocaust.

With such a quagmire of seemingly bad publicity circling Urban Outfitters, it might appear that this is an organization focused more on pushing the cultural limits rather than turning a profit. Such an assumption is likely wrong, however.

On February 26, GlobalNewswire reported that Urban Outfitters' Board of Directors had just announced an approved plan to repurchase $20 million worth of Urban Outfitters' own common shares. While it is uncertain at this time the exact reason for the repurchasing plan, it may be reasonably speculated that the business move strives to improve investor confidence in the company. As of the time of market close on February 25, Urban Outfitters' stock was trading at $38.35 a share.

Furthermore, Urban Outfitters has been continuously outpacing its competitors in recent quarters, according to Forbes. Such stores as American Eagle, Aeropostale, and Gap, Inc. have all been losing ground despite accounting for a far greater retail presence in North America than Urban Outfitters, Forbes continues. Finally, Forbes speculates that this continual outpacing of competitors will likely translate into Urban Outfitters continuing to open more physical retail stores, despite an overall shift in consumer preference to online shopping.

So while Urban Outfitters will likely continue to hold itself out as an organization dedicated to the uniquely provocative, it is important to remember that such an image appears to be just a cog in a carefully crafted profit-based business model.

[Featured Image credit to YoChicago, Body Image credit to CNN Money]