Urban Outfitters defies high street gloom

US retailer to double number of UK stores, while Ralph Lauren signs up to cross Atlantic with RRL 'vintage' menswear brand

Two US retail brands plan to expand on the UK high street despite the slowdown in consumer spending. Urban Outfitters – with a market capitalisation of $4.9bn (£3bn) – said it will double the number of stores it has in Britain and bring new brands to our streets. And, last week, the American designer brand Ralph Lauren signed up to bring its vintage-inspired menswear brand RRL to London.

Glen Senk, Urban Outfitters' chief executive, said: "It is cyclical what is going on. The economy has not changed in the past two to three years. It was near collapse in 2008, but people feel even more negative now. I said in 2008 it will take 10 years to get better and I still think that is the case. People are spending less so we have a smaller slice of the pie, but we need to concentrate and focus on the customer."

Mr Senk said that the business could grow to 50 shops here. "When the economy is challenging, it is the best time to grow."

Urban Outfitters is also looking at small businesses to buy. It had looked at All Saints, a fashion retailer, earlier this year but did not pursue this. All Saints is still in talks with another investor to rescue the business.

But Urban Outfitters is not immune to the gloom. In the US last month it posted a 3.2 per cent drop in fourth-quarter profits as higher sales were offset by markdowns and rising costs. Shares fell at the time from around $38 a share and are now at around $31.

But this year it will open up to nine shops, adding to its existing two Anthropologie outlets and 16 Urban Outfitters stores in the UK. It will also consider smaller stores than its previous two- or three-storey concept. Mr Senk also plans to expand its Free People brand; this has wholesale accounts that include Harvey Nichols. Free People will open stores once its wholesale presence is built up.

Urban Outfitters has recently opened a new distribution warehouse in Rushden, Northamptonshire, which will service its British shops and online delivery business. In the US, it launched a new online bridal wear brand in February – bhldn.com – which it will bring here too. It also owns brands Leifsdottir and Terrain.

Ralph Lauren, meanwhile, signed up to open a store for its menswear brand RRL on Mount Street in Mayfair. The company attributed this year's strong results – revenues were up 24 per cent – to the growth in retail sales worldwide.

Late last year, it signed up to open a store for its young menswear fashion brand, Rugby, in Covent Garden, central London.

Overall, the UK high street is feeling the pain of consumers beginning to tighten their belts following government cuts. Last week saw Carpetright and Halfords warn that their profits will fall short, joining HMV, Argos owner Home Retail, Dixons and Mothercare, which have all warned on profits in the past three weeks.

Last week, former Asda boss Andy Bond predicted two years of pain on the high street. Speaking at the Retail London Conference in the Hilton Park Lane, he said: "You're kidding yourself if you think the worst is over and we've had a consumer recession – it's ahead of us."

The latest research from Ernst & Young found that UK-quoted firms have faced their toughest quarter of trading in two years as the squeeze on household spending, soaring commodity prices and rising inflation eroded consumer and business spending.

UK companies issued 75 profit warnings in the first quarter of 2011, nearly 50 per cent more than the fourth quarter of 2010 and a near 40 per cent increase on the same quarter in 2010, according to Ernst & Young's latest Profit Warnings report. Alan Hudson, partner at E&Y, said: "The austerity measures mean consumers are feeling the cuts. Retail is under pressure and trading fell off a cliff."

E&Y said that the leisure andtravel business and those in the business support services sector have also suffered.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
Robin van Persie scores the third for Manchester United with a perfectly-guided header
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all