Now Williams-Sonoma is in Trouble

We kinda saw this coming.

Williams-Sonoma is cutting 18% of its full-time staff, or about 1,400 jobs, Bloomberg reports, after same-store sales during the holiday season dropped 24% year over year. The home-furnishings chain is also closing a call center and a warehouse.

A company statement says that the retailer isn’t closing stores (it’s actually projecting 2% growth this year, but that seems pretty inevitable, right?

Williams-Sonoma operates 626 stores under its company name, Pottery Barn, West Elm and other concepts.

Industry observers have long said that home furnishings chains would get hit hard due to the tanking housing market. Can Williams-Sonoma continue to hang on without mass closures?

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10 Responses to “Now Williams-Sonoma is in Trouble”


  1. 1 Smiley1 January 23, 2009 at 9:54 am

    They will very likely close some stores…as will a number of other home furnishing retailers including Cost Plus (World Market), Pier 1, Ashley Furniture and others. This segment of the market has been, and will continue to be, hit very hard by the economic slowdown…

  2. 2 Ray January 23, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    You have to wonder what kind of legs West Elm has in this environment. it would not be shocking to see them consolidate real estate perhaps and also eliminate the West Elm concept.they most likely will close some poor performers across the board as well you would think.

  3. 3 Brad Ellman, January 23, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Interesting that the TJX “Home Goods” outlet in Rockville Center New York is usually BUZZING with activity. Maybe TJX is doing something very right?

  4. 4 James January 23, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    “Oh, ok let’s see, how about if we take the company up to its maximum leverage against inventory and goodwill, hone our costs, sell the crap out of our stuff and make a huge profit?? Sounds great, ok lets do it.”
    Opps!

  5. 5 Tom January 24, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    In my opinion West Elm offers nothing beyond what you can already buy through their catalog or via retailers like IKEA, Crate and Barrel etc. I believe William Sonoma serves a more affluent customer with different tastes than those that shop at West Elm and will make it. I see West Elm getting out of retail store sales and go back to its grass roots catalog marketing. There is too much competition in this segment and they are the last retailer in the category to secure well located real estate. Not a good position to be in.

    Tom

  6. 6 Larry J Ortega January 26, 2009 at 8:27 am

    I don’t know about you, but even though I can afford a lot of what W&S sells, our household has cut back. I’m pretty content with what I have and not too many items are on my nor my wifes “radar” screen. West Elm is slated to open in Scottsdale and probably one of the better sub markets in the US for retail. I’m like most of America right now, not spending as much. I cut back on restaurants, on clothing (lost 50 lbs and tailoring my suits rather than buying new ones) vacations, travel etc. I’m still spending on books but I order them on Amazon, software upgrades, not that many. Want the newest Blackberry but my old one will do.
    There are not a lot of “Craveable” products that W&S has. The Apple store is very close to the W & S store in Phoenix. Lot’s of traffic in Apple and that traffic does not seem to cross shop with W&S.
    A giant “RESET” button has been pushed in our consumer economy and we will see more retail closures…only the strong will survive in every category.

  7. 7 Crazy Days January 26, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    lets round up the last people who can pay $300 for a toaster, shake the dough out of them, and it will keep this chain afloat until May.

  8. 8 staffer January 28, 2009 at 9:11 am

    The Braintree Ma location is closing Feb. 15th due to the South Shore Plaza’s decline in business over the last 5 years (Not nec. economy related though doesn’t help). Abercrombie, Forever 21, Hot Topic and the like don’t exactly help attract the WS customer. Instead the Mall has become a gang magnet with most retailers suffering from incredibley high theft. Many other retailers in that mall have not renegotiated their leases as well– you’ll see. Nordstrom’s is trying to back out of their K also…

  9. 9 Rob February 6, 2009 at 2:17 am

    I was reading the last quarterly financial teleconference call notes on W.S. I was somewhat surprised that the retail financial analyst did not ask any hard hitting questions. Like why does W.S. still intend on expanding the W.S. Home brand, when it has never been profitable and does not appear that it will ever make a profit? Why does W.S.H still push out the old Ralph Lauren formula…I thought that died at the end of the eighties? Maybe they should just get rid of their emerging brands Director, since he seems to have directed the company into the hole that it finds itself in?

  10. 10 sharon August 28, 2009 at 1:32 am

    Williams-Sonoma IS in trouble. They have no hours to give, and they are getting rid of most of their senior casual associates that make a few bucks over minimum wage to hire newbies dirt cheap. If you shop at the Seattle store, like I used to, you’ll be lucky if your salesperson doesn’t relay your question over the walkie to see if ANYONE in the store has an answer for you. They are now no different than Bed, Bath and Beyond, except that you don’t get a 20% off coupon at Williams-Sonoma.


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