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Housings starts fall 6.1 percent from June

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Housing starts for July fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.381 million units, 6.1 percent below the revised June rate of 1.470 million units. That figure is 20.9 percent below the revised July 2006 number of 1.746 million units.

According to the statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development, single-family home starts in July were at a rate of 1.070 million units, 7.3 percent below the June figure of 1.154 million.

Building permits fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.373 million in July, down 2.8 percent from a revised June rate of 1.413 million. July permits were 22.6 percent below the revised July 2006 estimate of 1.774 million.

Privately owned housing completions in July were flat at 0.1 percent below the seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.512 million. Completions were 22.2 percent below the July 2006 rate of 1.944 million.

Single-family housing completions in July were at a rate of 1.203 million, or 4 percent below the June figure of 1.253 million.

The Census Bureau will release new residential construction figures for August on Sept. 19.

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Restoration Hardware to cut 100 jobs

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Specialty home decor and fixtures retailer Restoration Hardware has announced a restructuring plan for its Corte Madera, Calif.-based headquarters.

The company said the plan, which includes 100 job cuts at the company’s headquarters, is expected to yield $3.5 million in cost savings by the end of the year. Annually, the cuts are expected to save $9 million.

The company most recently revised its second-quarter forecast to reflect anticipated revenue of $183 million to $185 million for the quarter, down from its prior view of $195 million to $199 million.

“This is a difficult but necessary decision that will enable us to operate more efficiently in the current environment,” said Gary Friedman, president and CEO of Restoration Hardware. “We believe the cost cutting actions we have announced this year, combined with our strategic growth and supply chain initiatives, will drive improved sales and profitability in the second half of 2007 compared to a year ago.”

Friedman pointed to several new strategies for growth, including recently launched Restoration Hardware Bed & Bath, Restoration Hardware Baby & Child and Restoration Hardware Trade.

“We’re positioning the business to achieve our long-term revenue and operating margin goals,” Friedman said.

Restoration Hardware operates 102 retail stores and eight outlet stores in 30 states, Washington, D.C., and Canada.

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Design Within Reach reports narrower losses

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Despite an exceptionally tough home furnishings market, decor retailer Design Within Reach (DWR) posted narrower second-quarter losses of $575,000, compared with losses of $833,000 last year.

Sales rose 0.2 percent to $49.07 million from $48.96 million in the same period last year.

“We made solid progress during the quarter as we improved our overall financial position and continued to build awareness of the Design Within Reach brand,” said CEO Ray Brunner. “We achieved sales growth on top of a tough comparable period.”

He added, “While we are pleased with this increased level of operating performance, there are many opportunities for improvement. We have a number of initiatives in place, including sourcing alternatives to improve our product margins and an internally developed advertising campaign to further build brand awareness.”

The San Francisco-based company forecasts it will break even by the end of fiscal 2007.

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