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Total Company net sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2014 increased to a record $648 million or 14% over the same quarter last year. Comparable retail segment net sales, which include our comparable direct-to-consumer channel, increased 9%. Comparable retail segment net sales increased 44% at Free People, 8% at Anthropologie and 6% at Urban Outfitters. Wholesale segment net sales rose 16%.
"Our brands delivered solid growth across all channels in the first quarter, especially in our direct-to-consumer channel," said Chief Executive Officer, Richard A. Hayne. "Our focus on the direct-to-consumer channel has paid off nicely and we plan to continue to make the investments necessary to support its robust growth," finished Mr. Hayne.
For the three months ended April 30, 2013, the gross profit rate improved by 125 basis points versus the prior year's comparable period. The improvement in gross profit rate was primarily due to a reduction in merchandise markdowns primarily driven by improvements at the Anthropologie brand. We also improved our initial merchandise margins and leveraged store occupancy expenses. These improvements were partially offset by a deleveraging of delivery expense primarily related to an increase in direct-to-consumer net sales penetration.
As of April 30, 2013, total inventories increased by $26 million, or 9%, on a year-over-year basis. The growth in total inventories is primarily related to the acquisition of inventory to stock new and non-comparable stores. Comparable retail segment inventories increased 1% driven primarily by additional inventory to fuel our strong direct-to-consumer growth rate.
For the three months ended April 30, 2013, selling, general and administrative expenses, expressed as a percentage of net sales, decreased by 70 basis points compared to the prior year period. The leverage was primarily due to improvements in direct store controllable and selling support expenses driven by the strong positive retail segment sales.
During the three months ended April 30, 2013, the Company opened a total of seven new stores including: three Free People stores, two Urban Outfitters stores and two Anthropologie stores, and closed one Urban Outfitters store.
Urban Outfitters, Inc. is an innovative specialty retail company which offers a variety of lifestyle merchandise to highly defined customer niches through 216 Urban Outfitters stores in the United States, Canada, and Europe, catalogs and websites; 182 Anthropologie stores in the United States, Canada and Europe, catalogs and websites; Free People wholesale, which sells its product to approximately 1,400 specialty stores and select department stores, 80 Free People stores in the United States and Canada, catalogs and websites; 2 BHLDN stores and a website and 2 Terrain garden centers and a website, as of April 30, 2013.
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