Our Response to COVID-19

At Urban Outfitters, Inc. (“URBN” or the Company), the safety and health of our employees and customers is paramount. The ways in which we interact with one another and our customers has significantly changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, certain policies and procedures have been modified, and new requirements introduced, to ensure we are adhering to applicable health and safety guidelines and complying with state and local law. While working in our stores below is what you can expect.

COVID-19 Update III

Sent: Tuesday, March 31st

Good morning,

We hope this communication finds you, your families and loved ones healthy and safe. The global spread of COVID-19 is affecting every one of us and is certainly impacting URBN, as well. Our efforts, as a company, have been directed at mitigating the risk to each of you while trying to maintain some business so we can continue to support and pay our workers.

On March 14, all URBN stores around the world closed to the public. We were one of the first fashion retailers to take such drastic action, but it became clear that we could no longer keep our associates safe while inviting the public into our stores. With the virus now spreading, it’s clear those stores will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

We also divided our home office workers into two groups – those that are location dependent, meaning they had to be at a central location in order to perform their jobs, and those that are location independent. This latter group we asked to work from home and maintain social distancing. We divided the location dependent group into two subgroups, A and B, and asked each to rotate days at work so the number of people at our offices and fulfillment centers at any one time would be much reduced, once again to permit correct social distancing.

While our stores have been closed, our Digital business continues to function. We are fortunate to have a vibrant, successful digital business. Many brave employees from functions like the photo studios, IT offices, fulfillment centers and pick, pack and ship workers in stores are keeping the digital ‘lights on’ so to speak. To them let me say, thank you, we all appreciate your commitment and dedication to serving our customers and our company.

In addition, we have instituted rigorous cleaning regimes using methods recommended by the Center for Disease Control and National Institute for Health, with the most often touched surfaces being cleaned multiple times a day.

The question our executive staff is asked most often is about concern regarding what the virus and closures mean for our business and how that will impact you. I want to assure you we are a strong company and our long-term future is bright. In the short run, however, we must make difficult decisions to ensure that sufficient cash is available to get through this challenging period.

Due to the impacts from store closures and reduced demand, we are taking many measures to protect our financial position. The first of these measures is the most difficult and personally painful.

Since March 14, URBN has provided ongoing pay and benefits to all store employees impacted by the temporary closures. As it appears store closures will continue for the foreseeable future, the Company will require a smaller workforce, and we cannot continue to pay everyone. As a result, today we are furloughing a number of store, wholesale and home office employees. This furlough is for 60 days, although I hope our stores will be reopened before that time and we can begin recalling many of those affected. Impacted employees will continue to receive enrolled benefits during the furlough period and be able to collect unemployment compensation in addition to benefits provided under the newly enacted federal CARES Act. We will make every effort to assist those furloughed in receiving all benefits available to them.

In additional to the furloughs, other measures to be taken include:

  • Suspend hiring, eliminate bonuses for FY21 and delay all merit raises,
  • Borrow $220 million to further protect our cash reserves,
  • Reduce our capital budget by over $100 million by delaying or canceling projects,
  • Adjust inventory levels by cancelling and/or delaying many orders and ask for price concessions,
  • Suspend the payment of rent temporarily and delay or cancel some new store openings,
  • Reduce all non-payroll expenses, including creative, marketing, and travel to name a few,
  • Extend payment terms for both merchandise and non-merchandise,
  • Reduce investments in our growth initiatives such as Nuuly and expansion into China,
  • And finally, reduce senior leadership compensation for the duration of the furlough time period and eliminate Directors’ cash compensation for the remainder of FY21, and suspend stock buybacks for the foreseeable future.

We understand these are extreme measures that will impact all URBN employees and Directors. This is the first time in our history we have furloughed employees. I do it, reluctantly. Over that 50-year history, we've overcome many other turbulent and difficult times – wars, financial crises, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters. Together we have weathered these challenges and emerged stronger each time. With your help, we will do the same with COVID-19. We are taking these necessary but painful actions today to ensure our success for the next 50 years. That success, past, present and future, is based on our amazing community of workers. Your dedication and creativity are inspirational. The long hours and hard work I’ve witnessed since this disaster began is remarkable and I thank you. I look forward, hopefully in a few weeks, a month or maybe two, when we can return to focusing all our energy in doing what we do especially well – pleasing our customers.

COVID-19 Update II

Sent: Wednesday, March 25

We are carefully reviewing and following state and local executive orders across the country on an hourly basis. As part of this effort, we evaluated the PA Governor’s and Philadelphia Mayor’s executive orders on restricted activities during the COVID-19 emergency. Though we had no input into the content of either order, we have contacted city officials on several occasions to ensure we are in compliance.

Our state and local orders are very similar to “stay-at-home” orders issued by other states and cities, all of which include exceptions beyond “life-sustaining” activities. For example, states like New Jersey, Ohio and Illinois, and cities like Los Angeles, Nashville, and Denver all specifically permit “online and telephonic delivery services” and “businesses that ship or deliver goods directly to residences” to continue operating. That is why many other businesses, such as Amazon and many others, are accepting and filling online orders.

We take our employees’ health and well-being most seriously. We were one of the first fashion retailers to close our stores voluntarily, and we did so across the globe before countries, states, and cities began ordering closures. We have continued to pay those store employees. We have also asked every employee whose job can be performed remotely to do so for the foreseeable future. There are, however, certain employees whose jobs cannot be performed remotely. We call them “Location Dependent” and we’ve asked managers to divide them into non-overlapping “A” and “B” shifts to increase social distancing. As a result, where before there were generally over 2,100 employees working at our home office, now there are typically less than 100, working in over 500,000 square feet.

We have also increased our cleaning regimens. For example, we are cleaning all high touch surfaces at least twice a day at our home offices using CDC cleaning protocols. In addition, we use electrostatic cleaning, which employs a botanical, hospital grade product, to completely disinfect our photo studios nightly. We have employed this same process to disinfect the remainder of our offices at least weekly. In addition, our protocol – consistent with CDC guidelines – calls for complete disinfecting if we learn that an infected employee has been in our workspaces.

We have also made provisions for employees who are impacted by Covid-19 or who do not feel comfortable working even with our preventative measures. Employees were told on many occasions, including on March 6, that they would be paid if they needed to self-quarantine because they had symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or were diagnosed or had close contact with an infected person. We have similarly told employees whose job requires them to work on-site that they are not required to come to work if they don’t feel comfortable and may use a combination of PTO, sick and vacation days as well as unpaid leave to do so.

Throughout this challenging time, we have tried to maintain open lines of communication with our employees. We have provided employees updates at least twice a week since we closed our home office and stores. In those updates, we actively encouraged our employees to share any concerns or ideas for improvements they may have with Employee Administration. If our safety protocols are not being carried out in a given location or by a particular manager, we want to know so we can immediately rectify the situation.

We understand how, on the surface, some might consider online fashion retailing to be non-essential, but the reality is that Covid-19 is a serious threat not only to our health but also to our economy. This is the delicate balance that our elected officials at the state and local level are trying to strike – to reduce socializing to eliminate infections, while allowing enough activity that our economy does not come to a complete halt. At URBN, we plan to do our part to support both efforts to the best of our ability.

On Background:

  • See the below employee update, dated March 6, in which employees were assured they would be paid if they needed to self-quarantine.
  • See the below employee update, dated March 19, for actions taken after the Pennsylvania orders were announced
  • See the below employee update, dated March 23rd, regarding the employee who tested positive and actions taken to disinfect our facilities.
  • See the CDC risk guidelines at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/risk-assessment.html.

Employee COVID-19 Guidance III

Sent: Monday, March 23

Unfortunately, we have had our first confirmed case of Covid-19 in an employee from the Navy Yard.

The affected individual, who works in B18, had traveled to New York City for a social gathering on Saturday, March 14. The individual is believed to be at home now. We have determined that they were last in B18 on Sunday, March 15.

We electrostatically cleaned B18 and the rest of the Navy Yard on Monday, March 16 and again on Saturday, March 21. In addition, all of the photo studios have been electrostatically cleaned every weekday since Monday, March 16.

This difficult situation highlights the need for all of us to follow social distancing guidelines. URBN has asked employees since March 12 to limit travel and avoid social gatherings. It is critical for us all to follow these guidelines, not only for our own safety, but also for the safety of our communities.

Employee COVID-19 Guidance II

Sent: Thursday, March 19

We hope you are all adapting to your new working environments. We know the last few days have been an adjustment for everyone, and we appreciate all you are doing for URBN. Please make sure you read the below thoroughly as it contains important updates regarding Covid-19 as well as our workspaces.

Status update

  • According to the CDC, the number of US cases of Covid-19 is now over 7,000.
  • The federal, state and local governments are finally beginning to take decisive action.
  • PA Governor Wolf encouraged non-essential businesses “to have employees work remotely or telecommute. If that is not possible, they should employ social distancing best practices and be aware of the Trump Administration’s guidance to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.” https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/wolf-administration-updates-businesses-on-guidance-for-covid-19-mitigation-efforts/
  • Philadelphia yesterday issued an order temporarily prohibiting most of the operations of non-essential business. The order permits non-essential office businesses to allow limited physical access to the business for 1) securing and maintaining the premises, 2) reserving the property or inventory there, 3) processing payroll and benefits, and 4) facilitating remote access to documents, data, and technology that are indispensable to operating the business. https://www.phila.gov/media/20200317124459/Order-and-Explanation-of-Prohibition-on-Non-Essential-Businesses.pdf
  • URBN’s Navy Yard operations are following these requirements and guidelines. Staff at the Navy Yard is now approximately 10% or less of normal operations. These Location Dependent employees are necessary to secure and maintain the Navy Yard and to facilitate work by the remainder of Location Independent employees (e.g. by creating photos to be edited, curated, and used by remote workers in managing our e-commerce business).
  • We expect federal, state, and local governments to begin taking steps to mitigate some of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

What are we doing?

  • We have substantially enhanced our cleaning efforts at the Nay Yard.
    • We are now sanitizing high touch surfaces to CDC guidelines at least twice a day.
    • We are increasing our use of electrostatic cleaning. This botanical and hospital grade cleaning regimen completely sanitizes everything in our spaces, including product. It is people, pet, food and clothing safe.
    • We are now using electrostatic cleaning in our offices and studios nightly.
    • If you have product to shoot, put it out the night before and it will be completely sanitized when you arrive in the morning.
  • We are increasing social distancing
    • Wherever possible, we have moved to A and B shifts to minimize social contact at the Yard.
    • We are moving to localize photo talent, to minimize the movement of people to and from New York and other areas.
    • We are using fewer support staff, such as sample coordinators, on each photo team to minimize the number of people in studio and touching product. We are also limiting movement of support staff across shifts to increase social distancing.
    • We are experimenting with other ways to maximize social distancing within our offices and studios. If you have ideas, let us know! Feel free to talk to your supervisor or to coordinate through Employment Administration.

What should you do?

  • If you have questions or concerns, please direct them to the URBN Employment Administration team first. You can email them at employmentadmin@urbn.com.
    • If you have concerns around your health, you should contact Employment Administration rather than your manager. We are asking you to do this to better preserve the confidentiality of your information.
    • We’re always happy to help with your questions, but please try and familiarize yourself with our prior Covid-19 communications. We may have already answered your question and you can save us and you some time.
  • You should minimize your travel and social interactions as much as possible. While we can’t tell you what to do on your own time, we are asking you to make responsible choices to protect your communities.
  • You should practice good hygiene, such as frequent hand washing and good cough and sneeze etiquette.
  • Look out for your mental as well as physical health. Try to get some physical exercise daily and consider getting outside.
  • Look out for each other and stay safe.

COVID-19 Update I

Sent: Saturday, March 14

PHILADELPHIA, March 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Urban Outfitters, Inc. (NASDAQ:URBN), a leading lifestyle products and services company which operates a portfolio of global consumer brands comprised of Anthropologie, BHLDN, Free People, Terrain, Urban Outfitters and Nuuly brands and the Food and Beverage division provides an update on COVID-19.

The global spread of COVID-19 is affecting every one of us. The safety and health of our communities, including our loyal customers and dedicated associates, is always of the utmost importance to us.

As far as we know, none of our employees have tested positive for COVID-19. In an effort to protect our communities, we have decided to close all of our stores around the globe. Stores will not reopen until at least March 28. We will continue to pay our store teams during this time. We will continue to operate our e-commerce and subscription businesses.

In our offices globally, we have asked our corporate employees whose jobs allow them to work remotely to do so for the foreseeable future. We have divided employees who cannot work remotely into shifts to reduce density at our corporate offices and create social distance. We have also enhanced regular cleaning protocols in these spaces and stand ready to deeply and completely clean them as necessary.

Because the situation is complex and evolving rapidly, our plans may change.

We want to assure you that we are doing our best to protect our communities, and we look forward to the time when we realize that we have come through this, stronger than ever.

Employee COVID-19 Guidance I

Sent: Friday, March 6

We are committed to continuing to update you on COVID-19. Below you will find additional guidance for URBN employees relating to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Business Travel Guidelines

  • We are following the U.S. Department of State and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) advice on travel.
  • All travel to high risk areas is prohibited. High risk areas are countries the CDC has identified as “Warning Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel”.
  • In addition, you must postpone until further notice all travel to Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Macau.
  • You should also suspend all other non-essential business travel, whether international or domestic. Travel is considered essential if the reason for travel is critical to the business and cannot be completed remotely or be postponed.
    • Use video or teleconference capability to avoid travel where possible. This includes both domestic and international travel
  • All business travel must be booked through our in-house travel agency, Travel and Transport. Note that travel will only be approved if it is deemed business critical.
  • Evaluate your travel plans to ensure that any connecting flights do not take you through higher risk countries that could impact your ability to enter or exit your intended destination
  • Be prepared for the likelihood that URBN may ask you to self-quarantine for 14 days based on the approved business travel you are undertaking. You will continue to be paid for this time and will be expected to work from home.

Personal Travel Guidelines

  • We recommend that you postpone all non-essential personal international travel until further notice.
  • If you choose to travel internationally, you must notify the Employee Administration Department of your travel plans. This will assist us in reducing the risk of COVID-19, for the good of all our employees, as well as customers.
  • If your personal travel takes you to a location that is prohibited for business travel as described above, you must self-quarantine for 14 days upon your return. You will be paid for this time if you work remotely. If not, you may use your allotted vacation/sick time for this period.

Employee Best Practices/Communication

  • Check your email daily before leaving for work to see if there have been any announcements related to closures of any URBN offices, stores or fulfillment centers.
  • Each evening, ensure you take home everything you’d need should you have to work from home the following day (or days).
  • Take your laptop and charger home with you each night so you are prepared should your workplace not be open the next day.
  • For those of you that do not have Company laptops, we have a plan to get you loaner laptops, please look out for a separate communication in the future.
  • Please use the the Internal Communication site to find information regarding how to work remotely

Illness & Self-Quarantine

  • You should monitor your health closely. If you experience a fever or any symptoms of a respiratory illness, do not come to work, you must self-quarantine until you have been symptom free for at least 24 hours. You will be paid for this sick time.
  • If you have travelled to a country prohibited from business travel as outlined above within the last 14 days, do not come into work until you have been symptom free for at least 14 days from your return. You will be expected to work remotely during this time.
  • If you are at high or medium risk as designated by the CDC – that is, (1) have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or (2) live with, are an intimate partner of, or are providing care to a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 – do not come into work. You must self-quarantine for 14 days or until your doctor indicates it is safe for you to return to work. You will be paid for this time. Please also notify Employment Administration of this situation to assist us in ensuring the safety of our employees and customers. Your health information will be kept confidential.
  • You can find the CDC’s risk levels at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/risk-assessment.html
  • Please note, the CDC regards as low risk “being in the same indoor environment … as a person with symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time….”

Emergency Contact Details

Please take a moment to consider whether we have the most up to date emergency contact details for you on file and if you are in any doubt, please confirm with Payroll.

Where should I direct questions?

  • Please email your questions to our Employment Administration Department
  • Direct all media inquiries pertaining to URBN’s response to the coronavirus to pr@urbn.com

Helpful Resources