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At Pier 1, four seasons won't do

NEW YORK — Pier 1 Imports is expanding its merchandise seasons to six from four in order to place better emphasis on the "summer" and "back to college" periods, which the store sees as growing segments, the company said during Lehman Bros.' seventh annual Retail Seminar Conference here this morning.

"We always brought in Easter and summer merchandise together," said Marvin Girouard, chairman and CEO. "I think we can now all agree back-to-school is a long period of time. Back-to-college/school used to be neatly packaged in a two-week period of time. Now it lasts much longer, from late August all the way to October."

The company is also trying to swing its accessories business to 40 percent of sales from 10 percent, at the cost of furniture, which once dominated at 90 percent.

"Accessories is now about 30 percent, and we'd like to bring it to between 30 to 40 percent," said Cary Turner, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

The company shared its merchandising initiatives for 2005, which, aside from its new six-season merchandise program, include: continuing to be in stock on basic items; broadening its price-point spectrum to include entry level and high-end ticket items; and building its "Special Finds" program with a catalog that offers larger furniture pieces, rugs and upholstery and two-week delivery, all to be implemented by August.

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