Urban Outfitters adding 2,500 jobs in region

The retail store in Center City. The firm is investing $210 million in the projects and will get tax abatements.
The retail store in Center City. The firm is investing $210 million in the projects and will get tax abatements. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 09, 2013

Urban Outfitters, the iconic purveyor of hip clothing and housewares, doubled down on the city and state Monday, announcing that it was expanding its Philadelphia headquarters and adding a distribution center in Lancaster County.

The expansion will ultimately mean an additional 2,000 jobs in the city and 500 in Gap, according to Richard Hayne, Urban Outfitters' founder and chief executive officer, who spoke at a news conference at the Marriott Hotel in Center City.

The firm said it was investing $210 million in the projects, which include refurbishing a 250,000-square-foot structure at the Navy Yard and constructing a 1.2 million-square-foot distribution center in Salisbury Township, Lancaster County.

Urban Outfitters will benefit from tax abatements at both sites. The existing Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) at the Navy Yard will be expanded to include the headquarters building, according to the deputy mayor for economic development, Alan Greenberger. A new KOZ was created in Gap for the expansion.

A groundbreaking for the Gap facility is set for Nov. 1, with completion set for the summer of 2015.

New hires in Philadelphia, however, would be years away, Hayne said. The renovation project will not start for two to three years, he said, and will take another two to three years to finish.

"Once it is completed, we will start adding jobs," Hayne said. Initially, there would be 600 to 1,000 new hires, he said, "growing gently to 2,000 over time."

He described the positions as "good, full-time jobs, a lot of creative jobs, designers, merchandizers, operations."

With Hayne at the news conference were Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley; Greenberger; John Grady, president of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp.; and Norman P. Hetrick Jr., regional director of the Governor's Action Team.

Urban Outfitters' plans for expansion are the latest chapter in one of Philadelphia's most remarkable business success stories.

As Hayne noted Monday, Urban Outfitters grew from a "tiny - and I mean tiny - store in a rowhouse two blocks from the western edge of the University of Pennsylvania campus."

From that inauspicious beginning in 1970, Urban Outfitters has become a global retail giant, with 20,000 employees, five brands - Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, BHLDN, and Terrain - and more than 1,400 stores in North America and Europe.

Hayne said Urban Outfitters would open a store in Toyko in two weeks, the chain's first foray into Asia.

In addition, it mails out 15 million catalogs a year for its various brands, he said. Growing catalog and online sales were the driving force behind the new distribution center, Hayne said.

"It will greatly enhance our ability to ship faster and freer along the East Coast and throughout the world," Hayne said.

And the expanded headquarters?

"When we came to the Navy Yard seven years ago, we had 600 people there," Hayne said. "Now we have 2,000. . . . I should hope that this will keep us going for many years to come."


BY THE NUMBERS

2,500

New Pennsylvania jobs announced by Urban Outfitters.

4,000

Employees at the Navy Yard expected after expansion.

1,400

Stores operated by Urban Outfitters under five brands.

15 million

Catalogs mailed out yearly by Urban Outfitters.


chepp@phillynews.com

215-854-2594

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