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Williams-Sonoma looks north to grow

Andrea Lillo -- Home Textiles Today, May 5, 2003

Williams-Sonoma's international ambitions extend no farther than Canada, the company's chief marketing officer said last week. At least for now.

Pat Connolly, executive vp and chief marketing officer, told investors at the Lehman Brothers Sixth Annual Retail Seminar last week that Canada already has some of the most successful stores in the company. But further expansion remains well beyond the horizon.

"People believe our brands would travel very well internationally," he said last week. "That remains an opportunity for us."

With eight units in Toronto and one in Vancouver, which includes both Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn formats, the company is very happy with progress in Canada, which it believes will be a 30-store market, said Sharon McCollam, senior vp and cfo. Connolly added that the company hopes to launch a catalog there as well.

McCollam pointed out, however, that "when you have the kind of growth potential that we do in the U.S. market, there's no reason for us to add that complexity [of international expansion] to our business at this time."

Operating in Canada since the fall of 2001, the company will open one unit each for Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn this fall in Toronto, as well as one Pottery Barn store next spring in Vancouver.

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