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Sonoma gives credit to new business

San Francisco — Customers' response to Williams-Sonoma's Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids proprietary credit card, launched during the third quarter, has exceeded expectations, the company said during its third quarter conference call this week, and the average transaction on the card has been higher than that of other payment methods.

Of the 148,000 accounts opened on the card, some 19 percent are believed to be from new customers, said Laura Alber, president, Pottery Barn brands. Total sales charged on the card during the quarter reached $75 million.

Overall in the Pottery Barn brand, textiles, furniture and lighting were the key sales drivers during the quarter, she added, and the reads on the holiday assortment have been positive. "We are very excited with our seasonal merchandising strategy and are confident in our ability to drive the business."

The company's direct-to-customers segment grew 6.5 percent to $187.7 million, driven by increased sales in the Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn Kids brands, as well as incremental sales in its West Elm catalog.

Williams-Sonoma continues to be pleased with its West Elm catalog performance, and if the trend continues, it plans to significantly increase the current circulation of 4 million, with a website in 2003 and stores in 2004.

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