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Business

Dior Spring Men’s Campaign Is an Ode to Color

IN LIVING COLOR: The advertising campaign for Dior’s spring 2021 men’s collection is as vibrant as the designs themselves.

To showcase the outfits designed by Kim Jones in homage to Ghanaian painter Amoako Boafo, photographer Rafael Pavarotti opted for highly saturated portraits punctuated by flowers, in a nod to the wallpaper backdrops that Boafo uses in his art works.

“The vibrant colors of this campaign perfectly reflect the powerful energy of the summer 2021 collection. It’s really a celebration of Amoako Boafo’s work,” Jones said in a statement.

An image from the Dior spring 2021 men’s advertising campaign. Rafael Pavarotti/Courtesy of Dior

Models Babacar N’doye, Jeremiah Berko and Samer Rahma wears items ranging from a retro-style knitted shirt with an ivy leaf motif to a pale gray mink top hand-painted with one of Boafo’s portraits.

The campaign, scheduled to break in GQ China and Esquire China on Jan. 1, was art directed by Ronnie Cooke Newhouse and styled by Melanie Ward. Ammy Drammeh did the makeup and Jawara the hair.

An image from the Dior spring 2021 men’s advertising campaign. Rafael Pavarotti/Courtesy of Dior

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World News

Mass grave with 113 ‘dismembered’ bodies unearthed in Mexico drug cartel city

Over 100 bodies have been found crammed in a mass grave in Mexico, which resides within the territory of one of the country's most notorious drug cartels.

The harrowing discovery was made by cops, who found the bodies dismembered with skulls scattered in separate bags.

Out of the 113, only 30 have been identified so far, according to prosecutor Gerardo Octavio Solis who spoke at a press conference on Sunday, reports Newsweek.

The bodies were found in El Salto, Jalisco, the base of the deadly Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), headed by Nemesio 'El Mencho' Oseguera Cervantes, reports Mirror Online.

Jalisco has seen the highest number of bodies exhumed from clandestine graves since 2006 with 867 and has the highest number of missing persons, with 3,568 in the last two years, a Mexico Ministry of the Interior report said.

The CJNG ruthlessly operates a multi-billion pound drugs empire and is known to rip out victims' hearts and eyes, and dissolve bodies in acid, as well as even targeting pregnant women, reports The Sun.

In October, 60 bodies had been found in a different mass grave in the town of Salvatierra in neighbouring state Guanajuato.

  • Mass grave filled with 59 bodies found in the heart of Mexico's cartel territory

The army and National Guard provided security for the excavation due to the apparent dangers, with authorities shocked that the grave wasn't in a more deserted rural area.

Meanwhile, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday denied that Mexico had agreed to capture a cartel leader for the US in order to secure the return of ex-defense minister Salvador Cienfuegos from US custody.

Last week it was reported that Mexico agreed with US Attorney General William Barr to seek the arrest of a high-level Mexican drug cartel leader as part of a deal to get US drug trafficking charges against Cienfuegos dropped.

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World News

The Dreidel Is Skewered in This Hanukkah Treat

Yes, Dylan’s Candy Bar stores and website sell Hanukkah “gelt,” gold-covered chocolate coins. But even more fun is the company’s new kosher gummy kebab, with blue and white marshmallows and gummies strung on a festive stick. There are enough pieces for each night of the holiday and then some.

Delicious Dreidel Gummy Kebob, $10.50; other Hanukkah candies $3.75 to $175; dylanscandybar.com.

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World News

For a Limited Time, the Cronut Will Travel

Cronuts for all, mailed to your home. Dominique Ansel will feature his famous croissant-meets-doughnut confection on his website for delivery in the contiguous United States starting Dec. 3 and at least until the end of the year. The flavor of the month will be chestnut milk chocolate, filled with chestnut and milk chocolate ganache. Mr. Ansel’s Christmas Morning Cereal, an annual specialty of puffed rice covered in chocolate, mini meringues and hazelnuts, is also available, as are gift boxes of individual kouign amann, canelé and Cookie Shots.

Cronut gift box, four for $35; Christmas Morning Cereal, $19; other items $21 to $90: dominiqueanselonline.com.

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World News

In Canada, a push to keep schools open in second coronavirus lockdown

TORONTO (NYTIMES) – Most stores were shut. Barber shops and salons shuttered. Restaurants and bars – including the outdoor seating where hardy souls had braved meals under heat lamps – were banned. Gyms, pools, even the beloved hockey arenas were closed in the strictest shutdown Toronto has confronted since the pandemic’s first wave last spring.

Except for the schools.

Facing a resurgence of coronavirus infections in Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America retreated back into lockdown on Monday (Nov 23), along with two booming suburbs. But in contrast to New York and other big American cities, officials are finding it more beneficial to keep schools open.

“We cannot put in class learning at risk,” Ontario’s premier Doug Ford who is ordinarily an advocate for business, said last Friday when announcing the closures.

Along with trying to avoid overwhelming the hospitals and to protect the elderly in long-term care homes, Mr Ford said, schools were “what matters most.”

Mr Ford’s announcement illustrated how Canada has followed the lead of much of Europe, prioritising the opening or reopening of schools, while just across the border many US states have focused on keeping businesses such as bars, restaurants and gyms at least partially open.

Since schools resumed classes in September across Canada after, in some cases, many months of remote learning, there has been strong enthusiasm to keep them open.

In most places there are no official thresholds for shutting schools down and there is little appetite to do so, according to Mr Ahmed Al-Jaishi, a public health researcher who is part of an academic team compiling school outbreaks across the country.

And, despite fears among parents that students would bring the disease home and among teachers that they would get infected in large numbers, such outcomes have been rare.

“The good news is that we’re not seeing much evidence of transmission within the schools,” said Dr Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate medical officer of health.

Even so, a significant minority of parents in Toronto, at least, have been reluctant to allow their children to return to in-class learning, particularly now, as the city is seeing the greatest surge of the virus since it arrived.

Last week the city reported a 6.2 per cent positive test rate – meaning that for every 1,000 people tested, 62 are infected. That is more than double the 3 per cent positive test rate in New York that triggered school shutdowns last week.

“We expect staff and students to be contagious, and come to school with infections. But the measures we have in schools have so far been effective at preventing the additional spread,” said Dr Vinita Dubey, Toronto’s associate medical officer of health.

Most schools across the country shut in March, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Canadians to stay home and closed the border. In many cases, the schools didn’t reopen until September, after months of parental complaints, children falling behind in schoolwork and rising concerns about the effects of social isolation.

By then, the chorus of concern was met by growing scientific evidence that time outside of school was more dangerous to children than the risk of going back into classrooms.

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A report by Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children released this summer called for a full return to school, stating that while children under 10 were less susceptible to the virus and less likely to pass it onto others, they were already reporting increased rates of depression and anxiety. Experts said they believed that substance abuse and suicidal behaviour went up as well.

That was followed by a study in August, published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, detailing a sobering list of long-term effects on young children who miss school, from less-developed cognitive skills and higher incidences of teen pregnancy to lower employment rates and higher arrest rates.

“You can close restaurants and bars and give financial handouts so they can reopen at a later date,” said Dr Michael Silverman, the chair of Infectious Diseases at Western University’s School of Medicine & Dentistry in London, Ontario, who co-authored that report. “What kind of financial handout can you give to a kid for the long-term cognitive development impacts, to make up for it?” He added, “Schools should be the very last thing to close.”

As a vast country with strong regional governments, back-to-school plans in September varied nationwide. For instance, in Quebec all elementary and high school students were required to attend classes in person, with masks required for grade 5 and up. In Alberta, children could return to school physically, or continue to attend online.

However, when schools opened in Toronto in September, about 30 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of secondary students in the public school system decided to attend virtually. Since then, those numbers have substantially risen, indicating persistent parental fears despite the expert assurances.

“There’s a reason why a very large percentage of parents and guardians chose not to have their kids in schools,” said Dr Charles Pascale, a professor of applied psychology and human development at the University of Toronto and a former deputy minister of Education in Ontario. “That’s the best evidence the school reopening in Ontario was a disaster – mainly because their parents were concerned the safety precautions were not enough.”

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World News

‘Paedophile manual’ sicko who filmed himself raping young girls jailed for life

A sick paedophile recorded himself raping girls as young as four-years-old, even 'stupefying' some of his victims to help him carry out his twisted assaults.

Jonathan Richard Maertens, 35, has been jailed for life with a minimum of 16 years at Isle of Wight Crown Court after he sexually abused nine children.

The Isle of Wight paedophile recorded footage of himself sexually abusing female children aged between four and 17, Hampshire Constabulary said.

A spokesperson for the force said: "Maertens in many cases edited the footage and stored it on hard drives at his home. At this stage, there is no evidence that this footage was distributed any further.

"The court heard the devices were seized when officers executed a warrant at his home address.

"Almost 2,500 pieces of footage and over 12,000 indecent images detailing his direct offending were found on the hard drives. In addition to this, a further 6,500 videos and 197, 000 indecent images of children were also located."

Maertens, of Richmond Meade, Freshwater, pleaded guilty to 34 separate indictments.

• 10 multiple incident counts of rape of a child under 13
• Three counts including two multiple incident counts of assault of a child under 13 by penetration
• Five counts of sexual assault of a child under 13
• Three counts including one multiple incident count of rape of a child
• Two multiple incident counts of assault by penetration of a child
• Three counts of sexual assault of a child
• Three counts of taking indecent photographs of a child
• One count of making indecent photographs of a child
• Three counts including two multiple incident counts of administering a substance with intent
• One count of possessing a paedophile manual

During their investigation, a specialist police team managed to identify all the children who Maertens abused.

The spokesperson added: "Their families have been provided with cross agency support throughout."

Maertens also pleaded guilty to one count of assault of an emergency worker by beating, and one of producing a controlled drug of class B – cannabis.

DI Toby Elcock, of Hampshire Constabulary’s Major Crime Team, said: “Jonathan Maertens manipulated situations to facilitate access to children, including in some cases stupefying them, before recording his abuse.

“His actions have caused unfathomable damage to the girls and their families and I hope that this sentence can provide them with the justice they deserve. Services will continue to support these children and their families so that they can start to move on with their lives.

"Our investigation has also sought to safeguard other children that may have been in contact with Meartens. I am therefore appealing to anyone who has concerns about their previous contact with him or has any wider concerns to contact Hampshire Police quoting Operation Foundry.

“This sentence reflects the severity of these crimes and we would encourage anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse to report this to the police."

Superintendent Sarah Jackson, District Commander for the Isle of Wight, said: "The officers involved in this incredibly difficult and complex case have worked extremely hard to identify each of the victims and provide them and their families with the support they need, as well as ensuring they presented a case which saw a guilty plea, saving those involved the trauma of a trial.

"We take all reports of sexual assault very seriously, and will do everything in our power to bring those responsible to justice.

"It is so important to us that people have the confidence to report these incidents to us, whether they have happened to you or somebody you know. It is also important to us that survivors and their families are provided with the support they need, and we work in partnership with other organisations to ensure this happens."

Anyone who has been a victim of child abuse, or has any information about this type of abuse, is encouraged to contact police on 101.

Alternatively, contact Child Line on 0800 11 11, or if you are an adult who has been affected, you can call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000

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World News

Boris says Brits could get ‘freedom pass to live normal life’ with Covid test

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The Prime Minister said Brits could get a "freedom pass" for a more "normal life" if they take a coronavirus test and it comes back negative.

Boris Johnson gave given millions of people hope last night and said Brits in Covid-19 hotspots could be allowed to meet with family and friends with the freedom pass.

A mass testing programme will initially be carried out in Tier 3 areas in a bid to tackle the disease and move towards a more normal lifestyle.

If the testing is successful, Brits may be back to normal by Easter, according to The Sun.

Speaking about the coronavirus winter plan, the PM said: “This system is untried. There are many unknowns.

“But if it works, we should be able to offer people who test negative the prospect of greater freedoms – to meet up in certain contexts with others who have tested negative.

“We will give support to those who have tested positive, to help them with isolation.

“But they will know that at the end of their isolation they too will have the prospect of greater freedoms.”

However, despite the announcement, Downing Street advisors say the programme will take time and the plan is still some "way off."

Brits would be given electronic documents to prove they tested negative for the bug.

Using a 15-minute rapid-results test, which is currently being mass-tested in Liverpool, Brits can get swabbed and return to normal life.

Earlier this month it was reported mass testing for coronavirus in Liverpool is having a positive impact after just one day of testing experts suggested.

Liverpool was the first area in England to be plunged into the third tier of the government’s alert levels in the fight against the virus.

Since the tier three order on October 14, the whole of England has been put back into lockdown – with new restrictions blanketing the country since Thursday 5 November.

  • Boris Johnson
  • Coronavirus
  • Lockdown

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Politics

Feds agree to help Biden transition after more Trump defeats

LANSING, Mich. — After weeks of delay, the federal government acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden was the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election on Monday and cleared the way for cooperation on a transition of power. The move came after President Donald Trump suffered yet more legal and procedural defeats in his futile effort to overturn the election with baseless claims of fraud.

Trump’s effort to stave off the inevitable — formal recognition of his defeat — is facing increasingly stiff resistance from the courts and fellow Republicans with just three weeks to go until the Electoral College meets to certify Biden’s victory.

Time and again, Trump’s challenges and baseless allegations of widespread conspiracy and fraud have been met with rejection as states move forward with confirming their results.

In Michigan, the Board of State Canvassers, which has two Republicans and two Democrats, confirmed the state results on a 3-0 vote with one GOP abstention. Trump and his allies had hoped to block the vote to allow time for an audit of ballots in Wayne County, where Trump has claimed without evidence that he was the victim of fraud. Biden crushed the president by more than 330,000 votes there.

Under Michigan law, Biden claims all 16 electoral votes. Biden won the state by 2.8 percentage points — a larger margin than in other states where Trump is contesting the results like Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

“The board’s duty today is very clear,” said Aaron Van Langevelde, the Republican vice chair. “We have a duty to certify this election based on these returns. That is very clear.”

Some Trump allies had expressed hope that state lawmakers could intervene in selecting Republican electors in states that do not certify. That longshot and legally dubious bid is no longer possible in Michigan.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement after the vote that it was “time to put this election behind us.”

“President-elect Biden won the State of Michigan by more than 154,000 votes, and he will be our next president on January 20th.”

The Trump legal team dismissed the certification as “simply a procedural step” and insisted it would fight on.

Mary Ellen Gurewitz, an attorney for the state Democratic Party, told the canvassers that attacks on the election results were “part of a racist campaign, directed by soon-to-be former President Trump, to disparage the cities in this country with large Black populations, including Detroit, Philadelphia and Milwaukee.”

Trump has tried to defy the results of the election through the courts. Having no luck there, he moved on to trying to personally influence local lawmakers to ignore the popular vote and appoint Republican electors, a strategy that would send Americans into the streets in protest, election law experts have said. Two local GOP canvassers who certified Wayne County results last week unsuccessfully tried to reverse course after being called by Trump.

Trump met with top Michigan GOP legislators at the White House on Friday and tweeted over the weekend: “We will show massive and unprecedented fraud!”

Trump was facing setbacks in other battleground states as well.

In Pennsylvania, a conservative Republican judge shot down the Trump campaign’s biggest legal effort with a scathing ruling that asked why he would disenfranchise 7 million voters with no evidence to back the campaign’s claims and an inept legal argument at best.

But Trump’s lawyers still hope to block the state’s certification, quickly appealing to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. The court ordered lawyers to file a brief Monday but did not agree to hear oral arguments.

The campaign, in its filings, asked for urgent consideration so it could challenge the state election results before they are certified next month. If not, they will seek to decertify them, the filings said.

Trump’s team insisted it did not want to invalidate all of the 6.8 million ballots cast in the state. Instead, the lawyers said they were taking aim at seven Democratic-leaning counties where they take issue with how mail-in ballots were handled.

“Appellants seek to exclude the defective mail ballots which overwhelming favored Biden, which may turn the result of the election,” they said in a filing Monday.

Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes. Other litigation has failed to change a single vote.

Pennsylvania county election boards were voting on Monday, the state deadline, on whether to certify local election results to the Department of State. The boards in two populous counties divided along party lines, with majority Democrats in both places voting to certify.

After all counties have sent certified results to Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, she must then tabulate, compute and canvass votes for all races. The law requires her to perform that task quickly but does not set a specific deadline.

In Wisconsin, a recount in the state’s two largest liberal counties moved into its fourth day at a slow pace, with election officials in Milwaukee County complaining that Trump observers were hanging up the process with frequent challenges. Trump’s hope of reversing Biden’s victory there depends on disqualifying thousands of absentee ballots — including the in-person absentee ballot cast by one of Trump’s own campaign attorneys in Dane County.

Associated Press Writers Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia, Mark Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pa., Christina A. Cassidy in Atlanta and John Flesher in Traverse City, Mich. contributed to this report.

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Business

Japan's ramen bars struggle to stay open as COVID hammers small firms

TOKYO (Reuters) – Sixty-year-old Yashiro Haga is folding his Tokyo noodle ramen shop after 15 years in December, unable to overcome the prospect of a lasting customer slump due to the coronavirus crisis.

FILE PHOTO: Sixty-year-old Yashiro Haga serves ramen at his noodle shop ‘Shirohachi’, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan November 20, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

“The flow of people has changed due to the coronavirus,” Haga said, standing behind the counter of his ground-floor shop, Shirohachi. “Customers aren’t coming in and queuing up outside shops any longer.”

The pandemic is damaging Japan’s “mom-and-pop” restaurants – including noodle shops like Haga’s – at a growing rate, despite evidence the government’s massive effort to stave off bankruptcies is working in other sectors of the economy.

Hurt by deflationary pressures and growing competition in the run-up to the now-delayed Tokyo Olympics, noodle bars are particularly prone to the economic malaise the pandemic triggered in the service sector.

Small and mid-sized businesses like Haga’s noodle bar employ about 70% of Japan’s workers and account for 99.7% of the total number of enterprises, according to government data, leading some to worry that a COVID-19 resurgence could trigger an increasing number of layoffs among small firms.

While overall bankruptcies among firms with at least 10 million yen ($96,228) in liabilities in the six months to October fell 5.2% from a year earlier, those among restaurants rose 4.5%, data from private credit company Teikoku Databank showed.

Bankruptcies among restaurants with less than 10 million yen in liabilities were up by 137% for the same period, Tokyo Shoko Research, a firm that monitors similar data, said, while the total for the service-sector, including restaurants, rose 64.4%.

But industry insiders expect that is just the tip of the iceberg, as local shops often close up with no official filing.

“Many ramen shops won’t appear in any figures when they’re closing down because they’re small, privately owned businesses,” said Haga, who has gone without salary since April.

Slideshow ( 5 images )

Hiroaki Nakazawa, a 42-year-old pharmacist who has frequented Shirohachi for about a decade, said he felt sad about its closure. “There’s only one place like this.”

At least seven other noodle stalls in the central Tokyo area popular with tourists where Haga has his table-less shop, which seats nine people at the counter, have already closed since March this year.

Nationwide, 34 ramen businesses with at least 10 million yen in liabilities went bankrupt during the first nine months of 2020, also a record high for the period, Teikoku Databank said.

Graphic: Japan’s ramen shop bankruptcies are rising,

LACK OF FUNDS

Another reason why experts say statistics underestimate the true impact of the pandemic on ramen shops is that winding down is expensive due to requirements from landlords to leave the stores stripped down after a six-month notice period.

“There are many firms with a lack of cash flow,” said Manabu Shintani, CEO of Actpro Co, a property intermediation services provider.

Among noodle shops, the first to fold this year were those whose businesses were already on knife-edge before COVID-19, often run by elderly owners, said Takeshi Yamamoto, an independent ramen critic who tracks shop closures.

Those were followed by a wave of noodle chains closing outlets, and now some places with younger owners are shutting down, said Yamamoto, who has eaten at more than 10,000 noodle shops.

He estimated that the real number of ramen shops shutting down nationwide was about 290 in October and November alone.

The spate of closures has helped some. Actpro’s platform for matching businesses looking to shut down with firms hoping to move into the location being vacated has been a hit.

Once a match is made, a restaurant owner and the incoming owner negotiate with the landlord, cutting costs.

The company has seen the matchings quadruple to about 70 to 80 a month after the crisis started taking its toll, Shintani said.

Shirohachi’s Haga used about $29,000 in government subsidies to get through until his closure.

He tried offering his noodles through takeout but was unable to make up for the income he lost after office workers’ visits fell due to work-from-home restrictions.

“Even among the most popular places, sales from takeout aren’t exceeding” the sales drop from the crisis, ramen critic Yamamoto said.

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Business

Urban Outfitters’ Quarterly Profits Rise 38 Percent

Urban Outfitters is showing signs of strength ahead of the holiday shopping season. 

The retailer — which counts Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, Terrain and Bhldn among its brands, in addition to rental subscription service Nuuly and a food and beverage business in the company portfolio — revealed quarterly earnings Monday afternoon, with bottom-line profits rising 38 percent for the quarter, year-over-year, thanks to strength in the Urban and Free People brands, along with reduced overhead expenses. 

Investors seemed unsure of how to respond to the news, since the company’s top-line revenues actually decreased. Shares of Urban Outfitters, which closed up 4.44 percent to $31.66 each Monday, teetered back and forth in after-hours trading as a result. 

But Richard A. Hayne, chief executive officer of Urban Outfitters, said in a statement that he was “pleased to announce Urban delivered record Q3 earnings per share in spite of an incredibly difficult operating environment. Our 38 percent increase in net profits was driven by strong product assortments combined with tight control of inventory and expenses.” 

For the three-month period ending Oct. 31, total company revenues were $969 million, down from $987 million the same time last year. But many of the company’s losses (more than $3 million) were in the food and beverage business. In fact, Urban Outfitters, Free People and even Nuuly increased their profit margins, year-over-year. 

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More precisely, Urban Outfitters’ revenues for the quarter were $394 million, up from $374 million the same time last year. Free People’s revenues were $206 million, up from $205 million a year ago, while Nuuly logged $6.7 million in revenues, up from more than $2 million last year. Anthropologie, however, the brand known for its festive occasion wear, registered revenues of $358 million, down from $398 million a year ago. 

As a result, the company had $76.7 million in profits for the quarter, up from $55.6 million a year earlier.

Not surprisingly, comparable retail segment net sales were flat for the quarter as a result of negative retail store sales and reduced in-store traffic with coronavirus cases on the rise and many consumers still fearful of in-person shopping experiences. 

By brand, comparable retail segment net sales increased 17 percent at Free People and 4 percent at Urban Outfitters, but fell 9 percent at the Anthropologie Group.

“We think the Free People and Urban brands are already taking advantage of fashion trends,” Hayne said on Monday evening’s conference call with analysts. “Since COVID-19, Free People has benefited from the highest digital penetration. We believe FP Movement has the potential to be a billion-dollar brand and we plan to invest in this brand aggressively.”

He added that Urban’s home category was also strong during the quarter.

Meanwhile, wholesale segment net sales decreased 24 percent during the quarter. The losses were offset, however, by double-digit growth in the digital channel. 

“Urban has doubled off of its lows this year, holding in quite well throughout the pandemic, primarily due to their existing e-comm penetration [about] 40 percent of sales pre-COVID-19, about [two times] the typical specialty retailer),” Ike Boruchow, senior retail analyst at Wells Fargo, wrote in a note. “Their robust e-comm platform was able to insulate their performance from the staggering in-store declines that brick-and-mortar retail experienced as a result of the pandemic, enabling the company to not see as much multiple contraction [year-to-date] as more store-reliant retailers.”

Possible headwinds include increased carrier rates and markdowns during the fourth quarter.

The company ended the quarter with $624 million in cash and cash equivalents and 630 stores, or 250 Urban Outfitters locations, 234 Anthropologie units and 146 Free People shops, in addition to the company’s e-commerce businesses and catalogues. Free People also opened its first FP Movement stand-alone store during the quarter. 

Company shares are up more than 22.5 percent year-over-year.

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