U.S. clothing retailers have a patchy record when it comes to breaking into European markets, but Urban Outfitters hopes to buck the trend. The company is edging slowly into Europe, opening a dedicated design and merchandising unit in London to tailor its product lines to European tastes. That's delaying profitability, executives admit, but it's also allowing the company to carve out a distinctive presence that should allow for more rapid growth further down the line.

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