High-End Retailer Williams-Sonoma Slammed By Heavy Discounting

Pottery Barn Williams Sonoma

Photo: Robert Neff via Flickr

Williams-Sonoma lowered full-year guidance today following holiday sales growth that trailed levels seen in 2010 and 2009, sending shares down more than 12%.The home-goods retailer now expects fourth quarter earnings between $1.05 and $1.10 per share, below $1.15 to $1.20 guidance earlier this year. The company also noted that high promotional activity in its namesake brand, Williams-Sonoma, contributed to the decline.

“Holiday comparable brand revenues increased 4.9% on top of 11.3% last year,” the retailer’s CEO Laura Alber said. “Williams-Sonoma faced greater challenges on a year-over-year basis given the heavy market discounting on nationally branded products.”

Alber noted that its West Elm and Pottery Barn divisions fared well during the period.

Comparable-store sales at the high-end retailer, which excludes new stores and sales through the company’s catalogue and website, dropped 0.3%, compared to an 8% gain last year.

Total net revenue for the eight weeks climbed 4.2% to $901 million, buttressed by an 11.6% surge in direct-to-consumer business.

Williams-Sonoma also announced a $225 million share buyback program and increase to its dividend by 29%.

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