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Williams-Sonoma sees West Elm as fastest growing brand

SAN FRANCISCO — Recognizing West Elm as one of its fastest growing brands and potentially its biggest in the future over Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma Inc. is rapidly transitioning the assortment to a slightly broader appeal, the company said during its presentation at today’s Bear Stearns Retail, Restaurants and Apparel Conference.

The brand’s assortment changes are already visible at the West Elm store in Manhattan ’s Chelsea neighborhood and in its new spring catalog. West Elm’s 2005 fall and holiday assortment will further demonstrate this effort, according to the company.

For its Williams-Sonoma brand, the company is embarking this year on several new initiatives that include revamping the remaining 199 Williams-Sonoma units that measure less than 6,000 square feet, following improvements made to one such unit in San Francisco last year, said Patrick Connolly, executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

Williams-Sonoma also has plans to update its catalog, beginning this spring, per mailing cycle “to look fresh and new and more seasonally relevant,” Connolly said, along with publishing the brand’s newest cookbook in August — The Mastering Series.

And for its fledgling Williams-Sonoma Home brand, the company this year will open its first units. It already sees promise based on customers’ responses — the peak purchase rate of people who have bought from Williams-Sonoma Home is among the highest in the company, said Connolly.

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