Williams-Sonoma Inc. singing in the rain

Retail Editor 4, May 24, 2013

San Francisco - Williams-Sonoma Inc. roared through what its chief described as a "choppy" retail environment to generate better-than-expected results and the best first quarter performance in the company's history.

"On the macro [level], there's a lot of mixed reports out there, and you can read anything you want. But consumer confidence is good. Housing indicators have been favorable. Employment for the most part is better," said Laura Alber, president and ceo during the multi-nameplate company's quarterly conference call yesterday afternoon.

"We're focused on taking market share regardless of the economy," she added.

For the quarter ended May 5, earnings per share jumped 21% to 41 cents. Total revenues grew 8.6% to $888 million, with consolidated brand comp up 7.2%.
Direct-to-consumer sales (ecommerce and catalog) accounted for 47% of sales, with retail stores generating 53%. The company anticipates direct-to-consumer will make up half of all sales in another two years.

By concept, brand sales results included:
Pottery Barn, up 7.6% with particular strength in furniture, textiles and tabletop;

PBTeen, 16.1% with a strong showing from furniture and textiles;

Williams-Sonoma, up 1.9%. The division also includes recently revived Williams-Sonoma Home business, which provided 30 basis points of the year-over-year increase.

West Elm, up 18.3%. Comps were up 11.8% on top of 22.1% growth in the year-ago quarter, and the nameplate set a record for first quarter sales and profitability.

Alber said consumers are becoming interested in their homes again.
"Whether they're moving or not, it's time to get some new stuff in your home after a period when, I think, people didn't feel comfortable spending money on their homes," she said.



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