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Williams-Sonoma Was Cooking in 1st Quarter

May 17, 2000|Abigail Goldman

Williams-Sonoma Inc. reported record first-quarter sales and profit, giving a boost to the company's stock price and its plans for new stores and products. The San Francisco-based company, which operates Pottery Barn and Hold Everything in addition to its signature stores, also said it promoted top merchant Gary Friedman to the position of president. Investors bid Williams-Sonoma shares up $1.19 to $37.19 Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange, but the shares remain well below their high of $59.19 in early December. With profit up 48% in the quarter, several analysts believe there are better days ahead for the company, which is unveiling new products and concepts. Chief among them is a new chain to be called Elm Street, which the company hopes will capture a larger share of the household goods market. Elm Street, scheduled to debut in 2002, will offer lower-priced housewares and furniture via catalog, the Internet and retail stores. Other new ventures include a Pottery Barn Web site this fall and the first stand-alone retail store for Pottery Barn Kids. For the three months ended April 30, Williams-Sonoma profit surged to $4.8 million, or 8 cents a share, up from $3.3 million, or 6 cents a share, a year earlier. Sales rose 33% to $343 million, from $258.7 million a year earlier. Sales at stores open at least a year rose 9.1%. Sales from catalog and Internet operations jumped 46.6%.

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