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Williams-Sonoma readies PBTeen

Williams-Sonoma will target teens in its next catalog launch within its Pottery Barn brand, scheduled for April 21. Called PBTeen, the catalog will offer exclusive products for the bedroom, study and lounge areas, the company said last week during its fourth quarter conference call.

With 40 million kids aged 10 to 19 in U.S., who influence the $200 billion in household spending annually, "the teen market is a significant subset of the overall home furnishings market," said Laura Alber, president, Pottery Barn brands. And the company will be able to leverage the strength of its house file to target appropriate households.

Though teens are the key decision makers on what items they want for their rooms, their parents make the purchases, particularly of high-ticket items, such as furniture. So the catalog must appeal to both groups, said Alber. The catalog has been in development for more than two years.

The Williams-Sonoma division will also add a catalog to its portfolio, with the introduction of a summer big book this year, said Pat Cowell, president, Williams-Sonoma brands.

The new summer book will allow the company to align its summer seasonal offerings in all three of its primary channels — stores, catalog and Internet — as well as introduce fresh merchandise during a period that was historically limited in new products.

The company is also actively flowing in more merchandise to increase its inventory levels, with planned increases of 15 percent to 20 percent in its in-stock position, said Ed Mueller, ceo of the parent company.

Its declining inventory levels in the first half of 2002 contributed to lost retail and direct-to-customer sales as well as customer disappointment, he said.

At the end of the fourth quarter, Pottery Barn's inventory levels were near its five-year low, said Sharon McCollam, senior vp, cfo, Williams-Sonoma, and that would grow, though because of lead times in both Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids they would not reach targeted levels until the second quarter.

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