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PHILADELPHIA-Urban Outfitters is finding ways to beat the recession even during a sales slump. The retailer’s second-quarter earnings came in at $49 million, up 17% over the same year-ago period, even as same-store sales at its 300 stores collectively fell 6% year over year.

Management, which tightened its inventory and budget during the quarter, still thinks there is “abundant opportunity for growth,” and is on track to open about 15 to 16 stores a year in the US, said Glen Senk, chief executive officer. Urban Outfitters would also possibly consider the acquisition of another chain, he said, if it was a “small business that had strategic synergies.”

Same-store sales dropped 8% at the company’s 148 namesake stores during the quarter and 6% at its 127-unit Anthropologie. Its Free People chain, with 33 locations, recorded a 16% plunge.

Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters both had their strongest performances in malls and did not fare as well in urban areas and lifestyle centers. They both lagged on the West Coast, with Anthropologie doing well in the South, while Urban had its best sales in the Midwest.

Management is still planning about 15 new stores in the US a year. The retailer expects to accelerate growth in Europe up from its current pace of one store a year to a more “multi-store strategy” in the continent, Senk said.

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