Urban Outfitters on Monday said that former Nordstrom women's apparel merchant Tricia Smith has been hired as global chief executive officer of its Anthropologie brand. She replaces Hillary Super, who had led the brand for three years and left Friday.
Smith spent 26 years at Nordstrom, most recently as general merchandise manager of women's, young contemporary, designer and specialized apparel, according to a company press release. In 2019, she left to become chief merchant at Tilly's.
The conglomerate also released preliminary first quarter results, reporting year-over-year high single-digit comps growth. Performance was better in North America than in Europe, where many stores remain closed. The namesake brand and Free people each saw double-digit comps in North America, "while Anthropologie sales have improved substantially but remain slightly negative," the company said.
Urban Outfitters has shaken up much of its leadership of late, announcing the departure of conglomerate CEO Trish Donnelly in January and moving various executives into different roles at the same time.
The company's namesake brand has grappled now and then with fashion missteps, while its Free People brand has consistently prospered. But Anthropologie has been falling behind, and is likely to see change under a new chief.
"We expect Ms. Smith to reevaluate the assortment with an eye toward shifting product away from mostly casual with consumers now returning to stores for going-out apparel, and potentially category shifts possibly oriented slightly less towards Home in the future," Wedbush analysts Jen Redding and Gene Gallagher said in emailed comments.
There are a few reasons the namesake Urban Outfitters brand, which caters to younger and less wealthy customers than Anthroplogie, is performing better, according to MKM Partners Managing Director Roxanne Meyer. More customers are returning to Urban Outfitters stores, it's benefiting more from the government's pandemic relief and Anthropologie appears to be hampered by inventory issues, Meyer said in emailed comments. She said improvement at Anthropologie will be critical.
"[I]t is Anthropologie that holds the cards to unlock value for [Urban Outfitters] as a post-pandemic play," she said. "Thus, the combination of slowing sales (when we would have anticipated improvement from pent-up demand for dresses) coupled with a leadership change at Anthro (following leadership changes at UO early in the year) may point to more measured upside potential in 2021."