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Pier 1 Imports will sell headquarters

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Pier 1 Imports, the Fort Worth, Texas-based specialty retailer, has announced an agreement to sell its headquarters to a subsidiary of Forth Worth-based Chesapeake Energy Corp.

“We have spent the past year evaluating options concerning our headquarters,” explained Alex Smith, president and CEO of Pier 1. “We had three goals in mind: recouping our investment, minimizing on-going costs, and finding a quality business partner for a leasing relationship. The deal that we have structured with Chesapeake accomplishes all three goals.”

The company, which has been plagued with 16 consecutive quarters of financial losses, has maintained its headquarters since the building was completed in 2004. The company plans to continue to occupy approximately 250,000 square feet of the building and expects to enter into a seven year lease agreement at closing of the deal. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The company will report fourth quarter and fiscal 2008 results on April 10.

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Boise Cascade secures additional financing

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Boise Cascade, one of the largest distributors of engineered wood products and building materials in the U.S., has secured a $350 million asset-based loan that will be used for working capital and to refinance existing debt. Banc of America Securities provided Boise Cascade with the credit facility, which includes a $150 million accordion feature, according to the announcement.

Boise Cascade treasurer Wayne Rancourt said the loan should “help us grow our distribution and engineered wood products business by increasing our position in existing markets, entering new geographic markets and expanding our product line.”

Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, Boise Cascade manufactures engineered wood products, plywood, lumber, and particleboard and distributes a broad line of building materials through 30 wholesale locations throughout the United States. Sales for fiscal 2007 were $5.4 billion.

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Williams-Sonoma earnings, sales rise in Q4

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Williams-Sonoma Inc., parent of high-end retailers Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma Home, reported earnings for the fourth quarter rose 3 percent to $124.6 million from $121.1 million in the same period last year, a gain spurred in part by an extra week in the 14-week quarter. Sales were up 9 percent to $1.37 billion from $1.25 billion.

Howard Lester, chairman and CEO of Williams-Sonoma, said the fourth-quarter results represented the higher end of company estimates for that period.

“While the post-holiday macro environment continued to soften, we remained focused on the things we could control,” he said. “We are pleased with these results.”

Overall, the company’s outlet stores saw a 4.4 percent gain in same-store sales, the largest same-store gain overall. Pottery Barn stores were down 1.5 percent in same-store sales, while Pottery Barn Kids stores fell 2.4 percent in same-store sales. Same-store sales rose 1.1 percent at kitchen decor retailer Williams-Sonoma.

For the year, earnings fell 6 percent to $195.8 million from $208.9 million. Year-over-year, sales were up 6 percent to $3.94 billion from $3.73 billion.

The company still expects the next year to be challenging, with Lester commenting it is expected to be “one of the most challenging macro-economic environments we have seen in many years.”

“Accordingly, we are approaching 2008 with a high level of caution and a view to preserve flexibility in our business plans,” he said.

In the 2008, Williams-Sonoma plans to add 29 new stores – 12 in the West Elm division – and expand or remodel an additional 20 stores. The San Francisco-based company operates about 600 stores, seven mail order catalogs and six e-commerce Web sites throughout the United States.

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