Urban Outfitters finance chief retiring

AP News
Posted: Dec 18, 2009 8:49 AM

Apparel retailer Urban Outfitters Inc. said Thursday its chief financial officer will retire and will be replaced by an executive from apparel maker VF Corp.

John E. Kyees, 63, had been with Urban Outfitters since 2003. He will be replaced by Eric Artz, 42, CFO of VF Contemporary Brands, effective Feb. 1, 2010.

Kyees will take the title of chief investor relations officer on Feb. 1 through his scheduled retirement date of June 30.

The Philadelphia company operates brands including Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Free People. It has been among the few retailers with relatively strong sales amid the recession, as shoppers responded to its apparels' quirky aesthetic. In the third quarter, profit rose 5 percent and revenue rose 6 percent to $505.9 million.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Howard Tubin said in a client note Friday that he does not believe the switch relates in any way to an accounting or financial issue or current business trends.

"We believe his retirement is truly a retirement," he said.

Tubin noted Artz is moving from a $400 million division of VF to a $1.8 billion public company but said his wholesale and retail apparel experience will be a plus. Artz also has international experience, which will likely benefit Urban Outfitters as it expands.

"We do not expect (Kyees') departure to have any impact on the merchandising and creative part of the business," added Tubin. He kept his "Outperform" rating on the company.

According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Artz will be employed on an "at-will" basis and initially earn an annual base salary of $425,000. He will receive a signing bonus of $300,000 and relocation expenses of up to $75,000. He is eligible to receive a performance-based bonus of up to 75 percent of his salary and is expected to receive 100,000 stock options.