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West Elm antes spend on artisan-made product for its mix

Brooklyn, N.Y. - Williams-Sonoma Inc. nameplate West Elm is partaking in the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action with a purchasing plan of $35 million in handcrafted products through 2015, a 40% increase in spend over the next two years.

The home furnishings retailer explained this effort is part of its "continued support of artisan communities in the United States and globally." It also pledged to make and source these products from businesses adhering to high social responsibility, health and safety standards, meeting local laws, best industry practices and the brand's vendor code of conduct.

"West Elm has achieved 14 consecutive quarters of double-digit comparable brand revenue growth by listening to our customers, and our CGI Commitment to Action reflects our customers' passion for handcrafted products, as well as their growing concern for the preservation of cultural heritage and the safety of the hands behind the work," said West Elm president Jim Brett.

Added Laura Alber, president and ceo, Williams-Sonoma Inc.: "West Elm's CGI Commitment to Action formalizes the incredibly important work the brand, and our company, is doing to support and scale artisan business and protect the craftspeople involved in them. West Elm has seen incredible growth over the past three years, due in part to the brand's offering of unique handcrafted and artisan made products, a key differentiator in the market."

Over the course of the next two years, West Elm will work with a network of more than 20 artisan groups in 15 countries -- including the U.S., Columbia, Haiti, India, Mali, Nicaragua, Peru, The Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Behind agriculture, artisan activity is the second largest employer in the developing world. Although large-scale investment facilitates economic opportunity and helps preserve traditional techniques, the systems put in place must also help artisans scale their businesses.

"West Elm's Commitment to Action will focus on helping our crafters and artisan makers grow their businesses sustainably and profitably, while maintaining and preserving the traditional handcraft techniques at the center of their work," Brett continued. "We're proud to connect our customers to this inspiring global community by launching a new section of our website devoted to the stories behind West Elm's handcrafted products, sharing the beauty of basic materials and the amazing ability of human hands through videos, photography and storytelling."

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