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PHILADELPHIA-With little elaboration, locally based Urban Outfitters Inc. has announced plans for a fourth brand concept. It is not yet named, but the company says it will occupy large, freestanding sites and is scheduled to make its debut in early 2008.

The concept is “inspired by the greenhouse,” says Richard Hayne, chairman and president, in a statement. “Merchandise will include lifestyle home and garden products combined with antiques, live plants and flowers.”

This is an apparent departure from the company’s current 95 Anthropologie and 110 Urban Outfitters units, which sell home furnishings, but focus primarily on apparel and accessories. There are also eight Free People units, which is the company’s wholesale segment that also sells apparel and accessories to 1,500 specialty stores.

Haynes has previously said the company’s stores are “all about environment.” The fourth brand, he says, will borrow “from the expertise and success of our other three brands (and will) also create a compelling shopping environment.”

“It’s interesting to focus on home, given the real estate climate,” says Betty Chen, VP and research analyst with Los Angeles-based Wedbush Morgan Securities. She tells GlobeSt.com she’s hoping to get more clarity on the concept, but adds, “it’s hard to imagine a chain of 100 to 200 stores, which is the kind of planning they have for their existing brands, devoted to home products, an area in which there seems to be an overall slowdown.” She also notes, “yet, the affluent customer is less impacted” by the residential slowdown.

A call to Urban Outfitters was not returned by deadline. However, in the statement, Hayne says, “We have an outstanding opportunity to serve the affluent consumer by offering a unique brand that overwhelms the senses with an eclectic product mix presented in a setting infused with beauty.” The existing brands’ units defy cookie-cutter design. Each is different, and “all are boutiques,” he has said, which management considers a key differentiator from competitors.

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