Pier 1 Looks For Answers

Pier 1 Imports received a bitter welcome to fiscal 2006, suffering a 12 percent comp-store sales decline during the opening quarter.

Marvin Girouard, chairman and CEO, said during the company's quarterly conference call that the dip was due to a lapse between marketing campaigns that resulted in slow store traffic. He said he expected sales and profits to improve as a result of the company's three-month old marketing drive, though the short-term outlook was still less than rosy (for full Pier 1 financial results, see page 16).

Pier 1 carried out a brand-awareness survey from June 11 through 15 to determine the success of its nascent advertising campaign. The survey will be followed by exit interviews and focus-group discussions. Girouard said the company will compare the data over the next 30 to 60 days against a baseline survey carried out before the campaign began.

In September, Pier 1 will launch its fall catalog — the first national distribution — with a 2 million copy circulation. The catalog will contain 60 to 70 percent new merchandise and work in conjunction with the company's marketing campaign. While most catalog skus will be available in the stores, some will be exclusive, Girouard said. The holiday catalog will launch in November, he added.

Also contributing to the lull in sales may have been the heavy use of promotions to move out older skus and replace them with fresh merchandise, he said.

“Pier 1 has to be a place to discover new merchandise. In July and August, we will complete changing out 70 percent of our merchandise that has been in the store for over 12 months,” Girouard said, adding that the stores will receive an infusion of colorful, contemporary merchandise.

At the end of the first quarter, Pier 1 operated 1,163 stores in North America, 45 Pier 1 Kids locations, 24 store in Mexico and seven in Puerto Rico.

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