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Urban Outfitters Mobilizes Brand

Specialty youth lifestyle retailer Urban Outfitters is extending its brand to mobile with help from mobile marketing content delivery solutions provider Acuity.

Urban Outfitters will deploy Acuity solutions to manage activities such as text messaging and more in-depth mobile commerce (m-commerce), writes Retailer Daily.

Urban Outfitters' mobile branding activities are presently confined to text messaging with customers. Aided by Acuity's Embedded Mobile Advertising Platform (eMAP) m-commerce suite, Urban Outfitters intends to use consumer data to send targeted marketing content based on specific factors such as customer interests, time of day and geographic location. It plans to target content at the national, regional and local level, and also to eventually offer mobile shopping.

Urban Outfitters enjoyed a healthy fiscal 2009 (ended January 31, 2009), with increases in company, direct-to-consumer and comparable retail segment sales, as well as gross margin. Comparable inventory also declined. However, Urban Outfitters is likely looking to develop new revenue channels as the specialty youth retail segment is showing mixed signs of financial health this year. In addition, some of its competitors are launching their own brand extension programs.

Abercrombie & Fitch is debuting a new store format, EPIC Hollister, next month in New York. Abercrombie describes the 40,000-square-foot, four-story store as "pure California fantasy." In a press release, Abercrombie said the new format will feature "sight, sound, scent, taste, touch and positive energy."

On a microsite dedicated to EPIC Hollister, Abercrombie says the new store will feature flatscreens with live feeds of surfers on Huntington Beach, CA. The microsite also allows customers to submit applications to be store models, as well as interactive features such as screensavers, desktop settings and online postcards. Abercrombie has not released many specific details about what exactly will set EPIC Hollister apart from other specialty youth apparel stores.

Last month, Abercrombie reduced headcount at its corporate headquarters by 170 employees. The layoffs equaled close to 10% of the approximately 2,000 employees working at Abercrombie’s headquarters in New Albany, OH. They followed drops in net profits and revenues during Q4 2008, although Q4 results still beat analyst expectations. Abercrombie has also said it plans to open flagship stores in Milan, Italy and Tokyo, Japan in 2009, although planned flagship openings in Copenhagen, Denmark and New York, NY have been pushed back to 2010.

Aeropostale, which launched a new kids’ store and e-commerce site concept, "P.S. from Aeropostale," this month, reported strong increases in areas such as net sales and net income during Q4 and fiscal year 2008, aided by dramatic improvements in its e-commerce business. This year, Aeropostale intends to open 40 Aeropostale and approximately 10 P.S. from Aeropostale stores, remodel certain existing stores and make IT investments.

American Apparel also had a strong Q4 and fiscal year 2008, especially in the areas of net and comparable store sales. However, Pacific Sunwear recorded financial losses in 2008, with total sales, operating income and same-store sales declining during Q4 and the whole fiscal year.

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