Pier 1 sees sales, earnings fall in the first quarter

Despite a long-heralded turnaround effort, home decor retailer Pier 1 Imports still saw weakness in the first quarter amid further difficulty in the furnishings sector and weakness in overall consumer spending.

The retailer posted a $32.8 million loss, still not as deep as the $56.4 million loss recorded in the same period last year. Sales fell 13 percent to $310 million from $356.4 million in the year-ago period. Comparable-store sales fell 5.4 percent.

Alex Smith, president and CEO of Pier 1, said the company closed out its “Modern Craftsman” line, leading to a lower profit margin on a large number of clearance items. The company also sold its headquarters during the quarter to help shore up funds as part of a turnaround strategy.

Smith said the company held back on marketing spending in the first half of the year, with plans to go forward with a more aggressive marketing strategy in the second half.

“While there is work yet to be done, we are well positioned and will remain focused on generating profitable sales,” Smith said.

Pier 1 most recently made an offer to buy Cost Plus, a competitor with a home decor retail presence under the World Market banner. Cost Plus’ board rejected the proposal, and Pier 1 has vowed to take the bid directly to shareholders.

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