Tough 4Q and Year for Williams-Sonoma

Fourth-quarter sales for San Francisco-based kitchen and housewares marketer Williams-Sonoma decreased 26.7%, to $1.09 billion, compared to $1.37 billion last year.

For the period ended Feb. 1, 2009, retail net revenue fell 24.2%, to $641 million compared to $847 million in the fourth quarter last year. Direct-to-customer net revenue in the fourth quarter sank 30.5%, to $367 million, down from $528 million last year.

For the fiscal year, net revenue decreased 14.8%, to $3.36 billion compared to $3.94 billion last year. Same-store sales slipped 17.2%. Retail net revenue fell 14%, to $1.96 billion. Direct-to-customer net revenue decreased nearly 16%, to $1.39 billion compared to $1.66 billion.

In a statement, Williams-Sonoma CEO Howard Lester said the company is focused on five key initiatives for 2009: Capturing market share by evolving our merchandise assortment and placing a greater emphasis on opening price points and the ‘value’ proposition; delivering superior customer service in an environment where it is very difficult to find; taking our catalog circulation optimization initiative to the next level through enhanced capabilities in direct marketing and e-commerce; driving efficiencies in our worldwide supply chain – particularly in the areas of furniture sourcing and returns, replacements, and damages; and optimizing cash flow through aggressive inventory management, lower capital spending, and the re-negotiation of retail lease commitments where possible.

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