A New Home for Williams-Sonoma’s Chambers?

Oct 01, 2003 9:30 PM  By

Multititle home goods cataloger/retailer Williams-Sonoma is developing a furnishings spin-off of its eponymous kitchen products title. And according to chairman Howard Lester, the San Francisco-based mailer may be folding its upscale linens title Chambers into the new book.

Lester mentioned the newest initiative, Williams-Sonoma Home, during an Aug. 21 analyst call discussing second-quarter results. “We are in the early stages of it,” Lester said. “Chambers will probably become part of that business and dissolve into Williams-Sonoma Home…[Chambers] would be the anchor for the textile piece of the total strategy.”

Commenting on the strategy, Kevin Silverman, a retail analyst with Chicago-based ABN-AMRO Asset Management, suggests that Chambers became the odd man out when the company’s Pottery Barn brand started to take off. “It never occurred to them that Pottery Barn would be the success it became,” he says.

The $2.4 billion Williams-Sonoma, which declined to comment, launched Chambers in 1989 as a high-end linens cataloger. According to Chambers’ data card, the book has 73,273 12-month buyers, and the average unit of sale is $289. Direct sales at the company, which also mails the West Elm and Hold Everything catalogs, as well as several Pottery Barn spin-offs, totaled $798.2 million last year.