Urban to Launch Bridal Concept

Discussion
Mar 08, 2010
Tom Ryan

By Tom Ryan

Urban Outfitters Inc.
announced plans to launch a new concept focused on the $60 billion wedding
industry. According to the company’s research, the average wedding costs
$45,000, with the bride alone spending $4,500 on clothing and accessories.

The idea for creating
a brand aimed at weddings grew out of the company’s existing business,
which frequently catered to brides and their entourages. An online site
will be launched for the as-yet-unnamed business by Valentine’s Day, with
a store to open later.

“We think this is going
to be a meaningful business,” Glen Senk, chief executive officer, told
analysts on a conference call announcing fourth-quarter results. “Anybody
we talk to about this goes, ‘Wow, that’s exciting,'” he said.

The wedding concept will
sell heirloom gowns that cost between $1,000 to $5,000. A design team from
Anthropologie as well as guest designers will create the gowns. Mr. Senk
also plans to offer bridesmaids’ dresses, jewelry, shoes, accessories and
invitations.

“We want to offer a community
for brides,” he said. “Travel services, wedding planning and flowers are
things we could potentially offer. We’re trying not to be just about selling
products. We want to help the bride plan the wedding.”

Success with the bridal
business will be part of a long-term strategy of growing by creating six
to eight "meaningful" brands. The company is well known for limiting stores
for its Urban Outfitter and Anthropologie chains to support demand. The
company also operates the Free People stores and wholesale business, a
Terrain garden center in Glen Mills, and the Leifsdottir wholesale line
that will also be soon opening its first store in New York City.

The company is expanding
its European presence and is laying the groundwork to move into the Far
East in 2012 or 2013. Mr. Senk said he envisioned international sales eventually
amounting to 25 percent to 35 percent of the company’s business.

J. Crew has also been
moving aggressively into the wedding business over the last year. Net-A-Porter,
the online luxury site, also launched a wedding boutique in February.

Discussion
Questions: What do you think about Urban Outfitter’s testing of a bridal
concept? Is a specialty store such as Urban Outfitter’s well suited
to pursue the opportunity? Are the current and emerging generation
of brides looking for a different retail experience?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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15 Comments on "Urban to Launch Bridal Concept"


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Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
11 years 1 month ago

This makes perfect sense for Urban Outfitters. There are many couples who look to have non-traditional weddings, where the traditional wedding dress has no role. Urban Outfitters will be able to cater to its core customer base with this bridal offerings, and yet not necessarily be competing head-on with traditional bridal shops.

It is also a great indication of a brand truly understanding its customers, and what they desire as a part of their lifestyle. The UO customer is unique and has a distinctive view of how they want to live their life, and this will be true of the wedding in which they participate as well.

This should prove to be a smart, and profitable move for Urban Outfitters.

Nikki Baird
Guest
Nikki Baird
11 years 1 month ago
First, a disclaimer. I am a huge fan of Anthropologie, and I love their stores, and that might influence my response. However, I am well past being a target for the bridal market, so I think I can be objective here. David’s Bridal has proven that there is a market for a ‘chain’ approach to what is traditionally a boutique business, so from Urban’s perspective, the business model is not risky, only whatever approach they take. But from what I’ve seen, they’re taking the right approach–they recognize that the value is not simply in selling the dress, it’s the “attachment rate,” if you’ll forgive the consumer electronics term–it’s all the follow-on sales that come with the dress. One of the first things women do when they get engaged is go out and try on dresses–it’s the entry point for all of the other goods and services they will eventually need. Urban as a brand is sufficiently differentiated from David’s Bridal that I think they can definitely pull it off. For women who want more funk… Read more »
Paula Rosenblum
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

It’s an interesting concept, for sure. It’s one way to leverage the demographic of their existing customers.

I also know that different sectors of retail are…different. I suspect that challenges of running a bridal business are quite different than the 8-turn-a-year fashion business. There’s a reason we only have one really scaled bridal business (David’s). All the others are quite mom-and-pop, or stores-within-a-store at department stores.

If it works, it’s brilliant, but I think it’s going to cost a lot of working capital to get there.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

If anyone can pull this off, Glen Senk can. Urban has done a terrific job of differentiating its brands (most non-industry folks I speak with have no idea that Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie have the same parent). The company has been incubating new concepts that incorporate services such as the garden, landscape and cafe concept Terrain (so far, one location in PA) and the uber-talented group at Anthropologie could pull the bridal industry out of its race-to-the-bottom misery by offering gowns that are more personalized and hand-crafted. Owning and managing the entire wedding process will plump up sales and drive loyalty. Love it.

Dick Seesel
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

Bridal is a huge category but a very fragmented business on a national scale. David’s Bridal may be the only player in the industry well-known to consumers, and there is a market space between David’s and bridal salons. Urban (and J. Crew, for that matter) will bring a different design and pricing point of view to the category, and Urban in particular can be expected to deliver a more contemporary point of view.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
11 years 1 month ago

Bridal is an untapped market in my opinion. I look back to when my wife went wedding dress shopping and here in Toronto. There were basically two choices, both boutiques, both very overpriced. Urban will hopefully take some of that market share away from those overpriced, under-serving retailers that exist today based solely on lack of competition. Where were they seven years ago?!

Marge Laney
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

I think this is a great move and a natural extension for Anthropologie, a la J.Crew, to enter this segment.

Having just been involved in a wedding, I can tell you that there is a definite market for non salon offerings. Planning a wedding is an onerous task and most brides need help just knowing what all needs to be done. If Urban can truly deliver a “one stop shop” that actually makes the process fun and doesn’t break the bank it will be a big win.

And one last thing; Please, Mr. Senk, don’t forget the mothers of the bride and groom when developing your plan! Most mother of the bride and groom fashions are just horrible. Bring some style to the people who in many cases are footing the bills and you’ll have half the battle won.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
11 years 1 month ago

This is an excellent strategy for Urban Outfitters. They have done a splendid job of capturing the Gen Y market as it migrates through its college years. As the market ages, their needs will evolve and Urban Outfitters will be there to evolve with them.

As I covered in a recent post titled “Riding the Gen Y Wave,” this market is huge and it will determine retail success for a long time to come. Those who align themselves with this market, as Urban is obviously doing, will enjoy continued success.

Look for kids merchandise in Urban in another 2-3 years.

Liz Crawford
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

I’m jumping on the bandwagon on this one! It’s a great idea. I imagine that other retailers will follow…having a ready-to-wear, reasonably priced dress would be a godsend for many brides. And to get it at the store she already knows & loves–home run.

Mark Burr
Guest
11 years 1 month ago
While I understand the fact that there is potentially a market for this type of service and offering, it’s way beyond my comprehension. If the average spending for a wedding is $45K, that means there are significant numbers spending even more. Astonishing. So the market exists, then I say go for it to Urban Outfitters. Nevertheless, my brain still says ‘ridiculi’ (Scanner speak for the plural of ridiculous!). I remain amazed at the amount spent to create a fantasy for one day. It’s utterly amazing, considering so many don’t do this only once. Thus, the market expands further. As I sit and fondly remember Mrs. Scanner in her $200 wedding gown–stunning as she was–I shake my head at $45K. Moreover, I click off the expenses of our wedding and would find it hard to come up with anything close to even 10% of the average quoted here. It’s as elegant, simple, wonderfully done, and talked about to date by our friends and family. I’d even add the cost of the honeymood and couldn’t come close.… Read more »
Lee Peterson
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

Great idea. The wedding industry–apparel in particular–is considered very old fashioned and out of touch with what younger people are looking for, hence U.O.’s results in this category to begin with. Can you imagine what either brand, including Anthropologie, would do with that? Nothing but improvement, I’m sure.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

Building brands makes sense. Building brands off of well regarded businesses makes more sense. But, when a retailer says, “We want to help the bride plan the wedding,” red flags should be raised.

That comment recognizes the fact that the business is a one-off business. There is no profitable repeat customer. Every customer has to be mined. That should always be a concern.

Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
11 years 1 month ago

I’d echo Paula’s comments. While on the surface it seems like a logical extension of their franchise, the bridal business is a very different business. The investment is significant, the turn not so much. In the scheme of things, this is still a pretty small niche business, even with the potential of add-ons, so the potential patback to UO is likely limited. Still, UO’s track record at spotting and executing trends and opportunities is a pretty strong one.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
11 years 1 month ago

As usual, I’m with Scanner. Forty-five K for a wedding? Do parents toss-up between paying for an unreasonably extravagant wedding and paying for college? If families are really spending this much for weddings, wedding suppliers don’t have to have many customers.

Brian Anderson
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

Urban Outfitters, Inc is a unique lifestyle specialty retailer, so unique that Glen Senk and his team should be able to build this concept into there brand. Today’s consumer wants-expects something different and if executed correctly, Urban Outfitters can add to the bottom-line and create a deeper connection to the brand.

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