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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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Dallas set to approve green building standards

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Dallas City Council is set to approve a new ordinance that will place new green building standards in the city in two phases, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The ordinance’s first phase would go into effect Oct. 1, 2009. Under the law, builders would have to create structures (under 50,000 square feet) that use 15 percent less energy and 20 percent less water than current Dallas codes. Roofs must also meet energy efficiency guidelines. Larger projects “will face similar, but less stringent requirements,” according to the report.

By Oct. 1, 2011, the ordinance requires that all new construction in Dallas be approved under LEED standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council or commensurate programs, such as the local Green Built North Texas program.

The city council has yet to vote on the matter, pending a comment period set aside for developers who wish to address the issue.

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Former Sears CEO to get paid through 2010

BY HBSDEALER Staff

In a proxy statement filed by Sears Holdings, the company said it will pay its former CEO his $1 million base salary annually through March 24, 2010.

Sears Holdings announced in January that president and CEO Aylwin B. Lewis would step down from his role. Lewis also stepped down from the Sears Holdings board of directors.

Lewis has been replaced in the interim by W. Bruce Johnson, who currently serves as executive vp – supply chain and operations. He will receive an increased salary of $900,000, up from $745,224 last year, according to the statement. Sears Holdings is searching for a new CEO, during a time the company is planning a restructuring of it corporate structure.

The Chicago-based parent of Kmart and Sears stores has been struggling of late, with fourth-quarter earnings down 47.5 percent year-over-year and sales down 6.8 percent.

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