Numbers Up for Williams-Sonoma in First Quarter

       

       

SAN FRANCISCO-Reversing an $18.7 million loss from the first quarter of last year, Williams-Sonoma posted net income of $19.5 million in this year’s first quarter.

The retailer managed to change from red to black based on a 17.3 percent jump in net revenues, which finished the quarter at $717.6 million and which included a 17 percent rise in same-store sales. Also key to the turnaround was a 760 basis-point gain in gross margin, which was 37.7 percent. Selling, general and administrative expenses rose 12 percent on a dollar basis, but fell 170 basis points to 33.2 percent of sales.

Howard Lester, who is retiring as Williams-Sonoma’s chairman and chief executive officer at the end of this month, said the company’s first quarter brought earnings per share of 23 cents, the highest for a first quarter on a non-GAAP basis in its history. Lester said Williams-Sonoma’s focus on customer needs, its strategic and tactical initiatives and the improving economy offer a promising future for the retailer.

Laura Alber will succeed Lester as CEO, while Adrian Bellamy will become non-executive chairman. Lester has led Williams-Sonoma since purchasing the company from founder Chuck Williams in 1978.