Pier 1 Sales Up, Profits Down; E-Commerce Smokin'

Home furnishing retailer Pier 1 Imports says sales in the first quarter of its fiscal year rose 6.1% to $419.1 million -- gains it credited to strong marketing programs and growing e-commerce business. And its e-commerce sales, which accounted for 9% of the total, exceeded expectations. 

But with a heavily promotional retail environment, net income fell to $15.1 million, compared to $20.3 million in the same period last year. And it says its omnichannel efforts continue to evolve, with roughly a quarter of online transactions originating at the store, and a third of orders placed at home being picked up in-store. 

Still, “the retail environment remains highly promotional and is pressuring gross profit in the near-term,” says president/CEO Alex W. Smith, in the Fort Worth, Texas-based retailer’s announcement. “As a result, we are adjusting our full-year earnings forecast accordingly.”

In a conference call for investors following the earnings announcement, he credits the company’s comprehensive marketing programs with “inspiring our customers and driving both new and existing consumers to the brand,” and says its “Find What Speaks to You” campaign, like this spot, saw great response. He also says it is readying much stronger promotional clearance messages for the summer.

The company says its new in-home delivery service, introduced back in March, has been well received. And it plans to add in-store swatch stations in August, which will allow it to show off multiple fabrics and finishes that will be available in a more effective way.

Euromonitor International says that sales of home furniture and furnishings amounted to $97 billion in 2013,  giving Pier 1 a 1.7%. That puts it well behind Bed Bath & Beyond, with a 9.7% share; Ikea, 4.4%; Home Goods, 2.9%, and Williams Sonoma, 2.2%. The total category is expected to grow slowly, at about 2% a year, in the next five years. But online sales, especially with newer players like One King’s Lane, have been more robust.

For the full fiscal 2015, the company now says it expects to see sales rise in the high single digits, and that it now expects to achieve e-Commerce sales of at least $200 million in fiscal 2015, and e-Commerce sales of at least $400 million in fiscal 2016.

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