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.
Sent: Tuesday, March 31st
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
What are we doing?
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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.
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.
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.
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