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Larry Thomas

Pottery Barn same-store sales jump 23.3% in 1Q

Helps Williams-Sonoma to $19.5 million profit

Aided by a 23.3% same-store sales gain at its Pottery Barn stores, retailer Williams-Sonoma reported a first-quarter profit of $19.5 million.

The quarterly profit, which equals 18 cents per share, reversed a net loss of $18.7 million in the comparable quarter last year.

Companywide, sales shot up 17.3% to $717.6 million. That figure included a 20.3% gain in revenues from catalog and Internet sales.

"This year-over-year improvement was driven by the cumulative success we have seen from our strategic and tactical initiatives over the past 18 months," said Chairman and CEO Howard Lester, who is retiring at the end of the month. "Our ongoing focus on our customers, their needs, and the aspects of the business we could control - combined with an improving economic backdrop - drove these better-than-expected results."

The 23.3% same-store sales gain at Pottery Barn reversed a 22.6% same-store sales decline in last year's first quarter.

The Pottery Barn Kids chain had a same-store sales gain of 22.9%, essentially recovering from a 25% decline in last year's first quarter, while the flagship Williams-Sonoma chain had a same-store sales gain of 10.6%.

"Collectively, our brands fulfill the promise of furnishing every corner of our customers' homes," said Lester. "That, combined with our world-class service, has differentiated us and allowed us to emerge stronger in this post-recessionary environment."

The company also boosted its sales and earnings projections for the fiscal year. Sales are now forecast to be $3.29 billion to $3.37 billion, up from a March forecast of $3.2 billion to $3.3 billion.

Earnings are now projected at $1.33 to $1.42 per share. That up from the March forecast of $1.12 to $1.22 per share.

The retailer ended the quarter with 610 stores, including 259 Williams-Sonoma, 199 Pottery Barn, and 85 Pottery Barn Kids locations.

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