Urban Outfitters has chosen a well-known area garden center to launch its latest business line.The Philadelphia-based clothing retailer said Friday it acquired J. Franklin Styer Nurseries Inc. on Route 1 just east of Route 202, its first foray into the home garden business that it plans to take nationwide.

Urban Outfitters' new venture, called Terrain, will "transform the local garden center into an experience that celebrates the beauty and abundance of nature while offering an eclectic mix of garden-inspired products tailored for the contemporary customer," the company said in announcing the acquisition.

Financial terms were not disclosed. Urban Outfitters currently operates three businesses: Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Free People.

"We are delighted to welcome Styer's into the URBN (the company's stock symbol) family," said Richard A. Hayne, chairman and founder of Urban Outfitters Inc. "We look forward to growing Styer's existing business and integrating it into our Terrain brand. We believe Terrain at Styer's will become one of the premier contemporary garden centers in the country."

John Kinsella, managing director of Terrain, said Styer management and employees are invited to stay with the new organization.

(However, it was announced last week that Michael Petrie, the known award-winning Philadelphia Flower Show designer resigned his position as Vice-President and retail store manager of J. Franklin Styer Nurseries on Jan. 18, in order to launch his own independent store and nursery.)

The concept behind Terrain is to find a niche between what big box stores offer and what the 20, 000 independent garden centers nationwide offer, Kinsella said.

"We want to make it more contemporary," he said. "We'll be merchandising the plants more inspiringly."

Kinsella compared what Terrain has in mind to what Urban Outfitters does in its Anthropologie stores, in which it creates "vignettes" to illustrate how different clothes complement one another.

"We will do the same things with plants, showing customers how different plants go together," he said. "People feel very passionately about gardening, and we find that very inspiring."

The company plans "slow growth" across the United States over the next 10 years, Kinsella said.

Terrain hopes to open the Concord store by April, just in time for the planting season, the managing director said.

Founded in 1890, Styer's is one of the oldest garden centers in the region. Its property in Concord encompasses 10 acres where it sells plants, garden supplies and home products, runs a garden cafe and offers landscape-design and construction services. It has been an active participant in the Philadelphia Flower Show for a number of years.

Urban Outfitters is based in Philadelphia's Naval Business Center. It owns 122 flagship stores, 106 Anthropologie locations and 14 Free People stores where it sells clothing and lifestyle merchandise.

o Richard Schwartzman added content for this story.

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