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Pier 1 Reports 15th Consecutive Quarter Of Sales, Profit Increases; Ramps Up Ecommerce Business

FORT WORTH, TEXAS - Pier 1 Imports this summer marks the one-year anniversary of its ecommerce segment, which in July will undergo further enhancements as its role becomes an increasingly important aspect in the company's total business performance going forward.
     While www.pier1.com "is not impacting [total] sales so much at the moment yet," said president and ceo Alex Smith, "they will in the future."
     During Pier 1's first quarter earnings call last week, Smith noted the site is attracting 1.2 million visitors per week, including "a nice growth in the number of online-only customers, especially those not within a Pier 1 trade area."
     In anticipation of continued growth online, Pier 1 this summer is executing "major site upgrades," he continued, "to enhance customer interaction with our brand" with new site designs and a redesigned checkout as well as implementing new incentives for shoppers, such as the opportunity to use coupons and other discounts toward purchases made from the site.
     Additionally, Pier 1 is exploring the expansion of some category offerings on the site, including curtains, cushions, outdoor and rugs - with extended style options.
     On a related note, the company's rollout of its new point of- sale system is on track for completion later this summer. At that point, Pier 1 will begin the integration of its stores and e-commerce businesses, "laying the foundation to provide a seamless and significantly enhanced shopping experience for our customers," Smith noted.
     Pier 1's first quarter results included: a 14% increase in net income to $20.3 million, with earnings per share growth of 19% to $0.19, compared to last year's $17.8 million, or $0.16 per share; a 9.3% jump in total sales to $394.9 million, versus $361.1 million in the year-ago quarter; and a comparable store sales gain of 5.9%, mostly attributable to increases in store traffic and higher average ticket.
     Smith said Pier 1's continued improvement of its gross profit "speaks to the success of our merchandising strategies, both in-store and online, and reflects strong full-price selling during the period."
     The company also leveraged expenses, enabling it to deliver operating margins of 8.4% and earnings per share growth of 19%.
     Pier 1's guidance for fiscal 2014 calls for: Comparable store sales growth in the mid single digit range; earnings per share in the range of $1.27 to $1.32, representing year-over-year growth of 9% to 13%, compared to prior guidance of $1.26 to $1.31; and approximately 30 store openings and 14 closing/relocations for a net increase of 16 stores.

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