Home Textiles Today, a trade rag for the design industry has a great article about Urban Outfitters’ home division. In reading the piece I thought many quotes from current UO CEO Glen T. Senk (he was President of Anthro before!) could easily be applied across company disciplines.
Some excerpts from the article (read it all here):
Looking at the company in relationship to the overall marketplace and the macro economy, Senk calls this a “transformational time. It will never be like this again. Those who come through it will be stronger than ever.”
Among the changes in general, he believes, is that “Luxury without value is over. The luxury business is very tough.”
Senk said broadly of his business, “Our place is supporting artisan, hand crafted merchandise and trends rather than competing with the commodity market. We love making limited editions.” This differentiation extends to the stores. “Every store is different, and it’s intentional. We give a lot of autonomy to store teams. We push the inventory to the stores and they communicate each store’s needs and wants based on their customers. It’s a very personal business. A well-run retail store has the personality of a person.”
For Anthropologie, the stores are directed to the 30-something customer, “but they also draw strong 20s and 60s,” highly educated and travel driven. The division does 20% to 30% of its business in home, with furniture the lowest category “because we’re not good at selling it – but we sell a phenomenal amount of textiles and prints.” Rugs are important, “but because of space we do a better job of selling them direct.”
One interesting point, Senk said: “Customers love buying on the internet vs. speaking to a person.”
The company also is tech-oriented. “We’ve done a good penetration into the technology world,” a move that is enhancing the progress in non-store activities. “I see concepts like cash registers extinct in five years,” said the 52-year -old retailing veteran.
Some very interesting quotes! In particular I found it not-so-shocking that furniture is their lowest category. Though their pieces are gorgeous and made right here in the USA, they are just crazy expensive. Anthro needs to either begin marketing their furniture better to interior designers or partner with a high-end furniture retailer to truly make that line a success.
To Senk’s quote about buying online vs. with help from an SA, I wonder if he means phone orders vs. online or stores vs. online. It’s an interesting vignette about technology either way. Do you agree with Senk’s take?