Looks like challenges continue for Williams-Sonoma, the high-end home specialty retailer. Sales in its fiscal third-quarter advanced 1.1% to $1.25 billion, compared with $1.23 billion in the same period a year ago, while comparable-store results slipped 0.4%. (A year ago, they had risen 4.5%.) And while its West Elm furniture division is flying high, with same-store results up 12%, sales dropped 4.6% at Pottery
And while its West Elm furniture division is flying high, with same-store results up 12%, sales dropped 4.6% at Pottery Barn, and skidded 10.9% at PBTeen. And at the Williams-Sonoma flagship, sales inched up by just 0.1%.
Net earnings for the San Francisco-based retailer rose 5.6% to $69.4 million.
“Our third-quarter performance demonstrates our competitive strengths — our differentiated portfolio of brands and profitable multi-channel business model — as well as the ongoing success of our strategic initiatives that we have seen this year,” says Laura Alber, its CEO, in its announcement.
The company says it also managed double-digit gains in its newer Rejuvenation, which focuses on home repair, and Mark and Graham, a gift and accessories brand.
The company has recently announced a series of unexpected moves, including the expansion of West Elm into branded hotels, and the introduction of Sun Basket, a meal kit delivery line, similar to Blue Apron.
Some observers, including NPD Group, the market research company, are wondering if it’s not a sign Williams-Sonoma “may have too many chefs in its kitchen,” it writes on a recent blog. “Certainly there are reasons to think Williams-Sonoma will do well in meal kits. Foremost among these is that the brand name is synonymous with a level of sophisticated cooking.”
But it points out that the meal-kit business is a troubled one, with data from NPD’s Checkout Trackingindicating that “more than half of consumers who sign up for a meal-kit delivery system from the three biggest players in the space wind up canceling.”
Within the first year, it says 57.2% of Blue Apron customers cancel their subscription, 55.4% at Hello Fresh customers, and 55.1% at Plated.