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Williams-Sonoma, Inc. Announces Third Quarter 2000 Results; Total Sales Up 23%; Comparable Store Sales Up 4.7%; Direct-to-Customer Sales Up 30%.

Business Editors

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 14, 2000

WILLIAMS-SONOMA, INC.(NYSE:WSM) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer W. Howard Lester announced operating results for the third quarter ended October 29, 2000. Net sales increased 23% to $398.7 million versus $324.1 million in Q3 1999. Net earnings for the quarter were $2.3 million or $.04 per share, compared with net earnings for the 13 weeks ended October 31, 1999 of $9.2 million, or $.16 per share. Mr. Lester commented, "Our earnings are consistent with the expectations communicated on October 9, 2000. The slowdown in consumer response that we saw early in the quarter continued on a downward trend through October. Lower than expected sales from Fall and Early Holiday catalog mailings, higher catalog advertising costs (driven by lower catalog sales) and depressed margins in the retail division due to increased promotional activity and higher than expected freight costs contributed to the lower earnings."

Retail sales for the quarter were $223.8 million -- an increase of 18%. Comparable store sales increased 4.7% over the third quarter of 1999, but came at the expense of increased promotional activity. The Williams-Sonoma concept led the comparable store sales increase. The Company operated 370 stores at the end of the third quarter, compared to 336 stores at the end of the same period last year.

Direct-to-customer sales for the quarter were $174.9 million -- an increase of 30% versus the third quarter of 1999. The Pottery Barn and Chambers brands and continued e-commerce success drove this increase.

Gross margin expressed as a percentage of net sales decreased approximately 40 basis points to 40% in the third quarter of 2000 as compared to the third quarter of 1999. Higher promotional activity and increased transportation costs from the distribution center to the stores more than offset the favorable impact of vertical integration and sourcing initiatives.

Selling, general and administrative expense expressed as a percentage of net sales for the third quarter of 2000 increased approximately 290 basis points as compared to the third quarter of 1999. The increase is primarily due to higher advertising costs in the mail order business. As mentioned in the October 9, 2000 conference call, the Company produced and mailed catalogs to achieve a projected increase of 40% in direct-to-customer sales. As the actual direct-to-customer sales increase for the quarter was 30%, catalog advertising was substantially higher than last year.

With aggressive inventory management and higher promotional activity, inventories for the period grew 22% compared to sales growth of 23%, despite lower than expected direct-to-customer sales during the quarter. This is in line with previous guidance.

Gary Friedman, President, commented, "We aggressively reacted to the slowdown that we began to see in late September. With heavy promotional activity, we were able to maintain sales momentum at retail. We also intensified our controllable cost control initiatives to offset the impact of higher mail order advertising costs in SG&A."

Mr. Lester remarked, "Based on the latest consumer spending information available, we are cautious about any short-term improvement in sales trends and believe that we will continue to see sales and margin pressures in the fourth quarter and beyond. We will be heavily focused on our execution for the peak Holiday season, inventory management and controllable cost initiatives."

Williams-Sonoma, Inc. will host a live conference call today, Tuesday November 14, at 9:00am (PST). The call, hosted by Howard Lester, CEO and Chairman, and Gary Friedman, President, will be open to the general public and can be accessed by dialing (212) 231-6015 and referencing the Williams-Sonoma, Inc. conference call. Additionally, a replay of the call will be available today, November 14, 2000, from 1:00 p.m. (PST) until Friday, December 1st , 2000, at 6:00 p.m. (PST). The replay can be accessed by dialing (858) 812-6440, access code: 16754070.

Williams-Sonoma, Inc. is a nationwide specialty retailer of high quality products for the home. These products, representing six distinct merchandise strategies, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Pottery Barn Bed + Bath, Hold Everything, and Chambers, are marketed through 370 stores, six mail order catalogs and three e-commerce web sites.

The forward-looking statements included in this press release with respect to the financial condition, results of operations and business of the company are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in such statements. These risks and uncertainties include, without limitation, the following: the companys ability to anticipate consumer preferences and buying trends; dependence on timely introduction and customer acceptance of its merchandise; timely and effective sourcing of its merchandise from its foreign and domestic vendors and delivery thereof through its supply chain to its stores and customers; successful catalog management, including timing, sizing and merchandising; construction and other delays in store openings; uncertainties in Internet marketing, infrastructure and regulation; changes in consumer spending based on weather, economic, competitive and other conditions beyond the companys control; multi-channel and multi-brand complexities; effective inventory management commensurate with customer demand; dependence on external funding sources for operating funds; the companys ability to control employment, occupancy and other operating costs; its ability to improve and control its systems and processes; and other risks and uncertainties contained in the companys public announcements, reports to stockholders and SEC filings, including but not limited to Reports on Forms 10-K, 8-K and 10-Q. The company has not undertaken, nor is it required, to publicly update or revise any of its forward-looking statements, even if experience or future events make it clear that the results set forth in such statements will not be realized.


WILLIAMS-SONOMA, INC.

SUMMARY INCOME STATEMENTS (UNAUDITED)
PERIODS ENDED OCTOBER 29, 2000 AND OCTOBER 31, 1999
(DOLLARS IN THOUSANDS)

 THIRD QUARTER
 2000 1999
 ---- ----
 (13 Weeks) (13 Weeks)
 % OF % OF
 $ SALES $ SALES
 ----------------------------------------

RETAIL SALES $ 223,771 56.1 % $ 189,732 58.5 %
DIRECT-TO-CUSTOMER SALES 174,885 43.9 134,416 41.5

NET SALES 398,656 100.0 324,148 100.0

TOTAL COGS AND OCCUPANCY 238,489 59.8 192,748 59.5

GROSS MARGIN 160,167 40.2 131,400 40.5

TOTAL SG&A 152,843 38.3 114,880 35.4

EARNINGS FROM OPERATIONS 7,324 1.9 16,520 5.1
GAIN/(LOSS) ON SALE OF ASSETS - 0.0 (23) 0.0
INTEREST EXPENSE 3,520 0.9 1,226 0.4

EARNINGS BEFORE TAX 3,804 1.0 15,271 4.7
TAX PROVISION 1,464 0.4 6,032 1.8

NET EARNINGS $2,340 0.6 % $9,239 2.9 %

 YEAR TO DATE
 2000 1999
 ---- ----
 (39 Weeks) (39 Weeks)
 % OF % OF
 $ SALES $ SALES
 ----------------------------------------

RETAIL SALES $ 626,425 57.7 % $ 520,583 61.5 %
DIRECT-TO-CUSTOMER SALES 459,198 42.3 326,240 38.5
NET SALES 1,085,623 100.0 846,823 100.0

TOTAL COGS AND OCCUPANCY 660,845 60.9 518,720 61.3

GROSS MARGIN 424,778 39.1 328,103 38.7

TOTAL SG&A 397,694 36.6 298,062 35.2

EARNINGS FROM OPERATIONS 27,084 2.5 30,041 3.5
GAIN/(LOSS) ON SALE OF ASSETS - 0.0 3,977 0.5
INTEREST EXPENSE 7,181 0.7 1,901 0.2

EARNINGS BEFORE TAX 19,903 1.8 32,117 3.8
TAX PROVISION 7,662 0.7 12,686 1.5

NET EARNINGS $12,241 1.1 % $19,431 2.3 %

 13 Weeks 13 Weeks 39 Weeks 39 Weeks
 Ended Ended Ended Ended
 10/29/00 10/31/99 10/29/00 10/31/99
 ------------------ ------------------
AVERAGE NUMBER OF
SHARES OUTSTANDING (000's):

 BASIC 55,717 55,827 55,931 55,761
 DILUTED 58,440 58,908 58,291 58,502

EARNINGS PER SHARE:

 BASIC $ 0.04 $ 0.17 $ 0.22 $ 0.35
 DILUTED $ 0.04 $ 0.16 $ 0.21 $ 0.33

STORE TABLE
 At October 29, 2000 At October 31, 1999

WILLIAMS-SONOMA 199 185
POTTERY BARN 129 110
POTTERY BARN KIDS 3 0
HOLD EVERYTHING 28 33
OUTLETS 11 8

 TOTAL 370 336

 WILLIAMS-SONOMA, INC.

 CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS (UNAUDITED)
 (DOLLARS IN THOUSANDS)

 10/29/00 10/31/99
 -------- --------
ASSETS

CURRENT ASSETS
 CASH & CASH EQUIVALENTS $ 5,889 $ 4,791
 NOTES & ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE 38,403 29,980
 MERCHANDISE INVENTORIES 369,446 301,665
 PREPAID EXPENSES & OTHER 13,174 10,968
 PREPAID CATALOG EXPENSES 29,002 27,068
 DEFERRED TAXES 9,265 4,077
 -------- --------

 TOTAL CURRENT ASSETS 465,179 378,549

INVESTMENTS & OTHER ASSETS 9,120 9,576
PROPERTY & OTHER EQUIPMENT - NET 466,815 302,718
 -------- --------

 TOTAL ASSETS $941,114 $690,843
 ======== ========

LIABILITIES & SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY

CURRENT LIABILITIES
 ACCOUNTS PAYABLE $135,215 $106,115
 ACCRUED EXPENSES 36,340 21,750
 LINE OF CREDIT 173,700 61,980
 CUSTOMER DEPOSITS 45,009 30,515
 CURRENT PORTION OF LONG-TERM DEBT 12,196 5,966
 INCOME TAXES PAYABLE 2,628 6,481
 OTHER LIABILITIES 13,656 7,691
 -------- --------

 TOTAL CURRENT LIABILITIES 418,744 240,498

NON-CURRENT LIABILITIES
 DEFERRED LEASE CREDITS 103,877 85,610
 DEFERRED TAX LIABILITY 8,520 3,339
 LONG-TERM DEBT 23,000 35,497
 OTHER OBLIGATIONS 5,782 4,709
 -------- --------

 TOTAL LIABILITIES 559,923 369,653

SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY 381,191 321,190
 -------- --------

 TOTAL LIABILITIES & EQUITY $941,114 $690,843
 ======== ========
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