2010 Big for Sonoma

Cooking and home décor products cataloger/retailer Williams-Sonoma reported solid results for 2010, with record growth across the board.

Consider that the merchant’s direct-to-customer sales rose 17.3%, to $466 million in the fourth quarter. Internet sales for the period jumped 27.2%, to $393 million, from $309 million.

Retail sales increased 5.3%, to $729 million, while same-store sales rose 5.2%. For fiscal year 2010, Williams-Sonoma’s net sales increased nearly 13%, to $3.50 billion, up from $3.10 billion. Internet sales soared nearly 27% while same-store sales rose 9.8%.

The company — which includes Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, PBteen, West Elm and Williams-Sonoma Home — made progress in merchandising, marketing, customer acquisition and customer service in 2010, according to president/CEO Laura Alber.

Chris Kampe, managing director for investment firm Tully & Holland, agrees that Williams-Sonoma “appears to be firing on all cylinders.”

Margins are higher due to higher gross margin, efficiencies in supply chain, lower retail operating expenses, and a leveraging of fixed costs over higher sales volume. Kampe explains. And Pottery Barn, which he calls perhaps the most cyclical component of Williams-Sonoma, “has been performing much better.”

Beyond simply better execution, Kampe says Williams-Sonoma is flourishing from the return of consumer spending for discretionary purchases with the end of the recession.

As for the remainder of 2011, Alber said in a statement that Williams-Sonoma will focus on adding new efficiencies in its worldwide supply chain, improving the retail customer experience and expanding the ecommerce business — including the rollout of international shipping.

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