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Retail Briefs

Kohl's in Vera Wang Exclusive

Kohl's will launch Very Vera by Vera Wang, an exclusive lifestyle program licensed by the designer to encompass sportswear, intimate apparel, handbags, leather accessories, jewelry, footwear, linens and towels. Merchandise is planned to debut in stores and on Kohls.com for fall 2007. Kohl's president Kevin Mansell noted that the brand will form a “premium collection” at the 817-unit promotional department-store retailer.

Gottschalks Tests Smaller Home Dept.

Western regional department store chain Gottschalks is testing a smaller-footprint home department in a key store. The motivation is two-fold: first, to provide more space for leading softline categories such as better sportswear, juniors, fashion accessories, shoes and cosmetics; and second, to test a home assortment that trims out non-performing merchandise categories. In a recent conference call, Jim Famalette, president and ceo of the 68-unit, said the company would meet the “significant challenges” in home by initiatives in “product assortment, space allocation, and marketing efforts.”

Neiman Adds Online Galleries

Neiman Marcus has expanded its online home section with a series of designer galleries for the labels Armani Casa, Versace, Missoni, Fendi, and John Hardy. Offerings under each brand are tightly edited. The Missoni gallery offers the broadest range of home textiles, including bath, while the Versace and Hardy areas consist of hard home items only.

Williams-Sonoma Cuts Projections

While overall second-quarter results were strong, Williams-Sonoma has begun to see “a softening in consumer demand,” Howard Lester, chairman and ceo told analysts in a conference call, noting that below-expectation performance of the Pottery Barn fall catalog was a factor. Comp sales were up just 1.2% for the quarter, with Pottery Barn comps down 0.2%. The company reduced its fiscal 2006 revenue guidance by up to $100 million, to the range of $3.754 to $3.804 billion. Earnings guidance dropped from $1.97 to $2.01, to $1.87 to $1.94 per diluted share.

Dave DeMattei, formerly president of emerging brands, was promoted to group president of the West Elm, Williams-Sonoma and Williams-Sonoma Home brands, reporting directly to Lester.

Cost Plus Revs Up Value Message

Bedding and bath outperformed a sluggish home furnishings mix in the second quarter at Cost Plus, and the 276-unit chain saw better same-store sales at more locations, reporting that “the number of stores with positive comps in the quarter improved by approximately 12 percentage points compared to the first quarter of 2006.” Still, comps as a whole decreased by 3.2%. Revenues rose 6.2% to $215.3 million, as the specialty chain recorded a net loss of $11.3 million, vs. a net profit of $1.5 million for the period one year ago.

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