Urban Outfitters on Thursday announced that David McCreight, CEO of its Anthropologie Group and president of the company, will exit the company on April 27 after six years there.
Hillary Super, now Anthropologie Group president of apparel and accessories, (which includes beauty and its BHLDN banner), and Andrew Carnie, Anthropologie Group president of home, garden and international, together will lead the brand in his place, according to a company press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The switch comes after the company reported a turnaround in sales in the fourth quarter, with same-store sales rising 8% at Free People, 5% at Anthropologie and 2% at Urban Outfitters. It was the fourth consecutive quarter of comp sales trend improvements for the Anthropologie Group after about two years of lagging performance, and the company is poised to deliver strong growth in the first half of the year, executives told analysts last month, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha. Still, the banner has room to improve its operating profit rate.
Anthropologie, along with Urban Outfitters' other brands (which also include BHLDN, Free People, Terrain and Urban Outfitters, as well as a food and beverage division), operates in that hard to nail down "third wave" of cool that allows a retailer to avoid competing on price or relying on uber-convenience, according to Lee Peterson, EVP of brand strategy & design at design firm WD Partners.
That could be part of the reason for Nordstrom's partnership with the brand, which introduced more than 200 items from Anthropologie Home at select Nordstrom full-line stores and on Nordstrom.com, beginning last month. Anthropologie fetches premium prices for goods from comforters and poufs to candles and napkins, and a presence in Nordstrom stores could help expand its customer base and make up for what some analysts find to be somewhat chaotic stores.
Like Gap with Old Navy and Abercrombie & Fitch with Hollister, however, Urban Outfitters is relying a bit too much on its Free People brand, some analysts say. Although, unlike those retailers, Free People isn't lower-priced than its siblings. Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters stores are, as GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders put it recently, "not unpleasant," but it can be difficult for customers to shop there, he said in an email to Retail Dive last year.
During McCreight's tenure, the Anthropologie Group opened 60 stores and grew revenue by over 35%, CEO Richard A. Hayne said in a statement on Wednesday. "Both Hillary and Andrew are strong leaders and excellent merchants with a solid understanding of the Anthropologie customer," he said. "Anthropologie Group's current business is particularly robust, and we are excited about both the near and longer-term opportunities for growth under their leadership."