Williams-Sonoma E-Commerce Operations Buoy Q1

E-commerce helped sustain Williams-Sonoma in a first quarter hit by coronavirus-related store closings.

Net earnings were $35.4 million, or 45 cents per diluted share, versus $52.7 million, or 66 cents per diluted share, in the year-earlier period. Adjusted for one-time events, earnings per share were 74 cents versus 81 cents in the quarter a year prior. Adjusted earnings per share topped a Zacks Investment Research analyst consensus estimate of nine cents per diluted share.

Total comparable brand growth was 2.6% from the year previous, with comps up in Pottery Barn Kids and Teen, at 8.5%; Williams Sonoma, at 5.4%; and West Elm, at 3.3%, but down 1.1% at Pottery Barn. E-commerce comps gained 31.2% overall.

Net revenues of $1.24 billion were effectively flat year over year, but Williams-Sonoma pointed out that the 2020 quarter included temporary store closings for most of the period, with e-commerce revenue the key factor in sustaining revenues. Operating income was $48.6 million versus $74.1 million in the quarter a year prior.

Laura Alber, Williams-Sonoma president and CEO, said, “In this highly disrupted environment, we are proud to deliver 2.6% comp growth in the first quarter, despite having all of our 616 stores closed for more than half of the quarter. Our large e-commerce business had breakout comp growth in the second half of the quarter and continues to accelerate. Our teams maximized demand online, leaning into new and innovative ways to engage and serve our customers virtually. We gained market share with strong new customer growth in our DTC business, giving us even more confidence in the growth trajectory of our e-commerce business longer term. The resilience of our business through this crisis exemplifies the advantage of our unique multi-brand, multi-channel platform and our commitment to all of our stakeholders. Nothing makes me prouder than to have achieved our results while staying true to our company’s core value of taking care of our people, customers and communities. Our strong financial position and fortress balance sheet have allowed us to support our associates with pay continuation, while giving back to support relief efforts in our local communities.”

In the longer term, Alber said, “this crisis has accelerated our industry’s shift to e-commerce and given rise to a newfound appreciation for the home. We believe that with our differentiated value proposition of sustainable, design-led products and a powerful digital first platform, we are well positioned.”