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Williams-Sonoma to cut staff by 18%


SAN FRANCISCO Williams-Sonoma announced hat it will reduce company staff by 18% (approximately 1,400 positions) as part of a series of action to reduce overhead costs by approximately $75 million.

In addition, the company is closing its Camp Hill, Pa., call center and distribution facility in Memphis, Tenn.

All of these actions will be completed by January 31, the company reported. Williams-Sonoma said it expects to incur a pre-tax charge in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2008 of approximately $14 million to $15 million related to these actions, or 8 cents to 9 cents per diluted share on an after-tax basis.

Howard Lester, chairman and CEO, commented, “In addition to the actions we are taking this quarter, we are continuing to target further 2009 reductions in inventory, catalog circulation, retail leased square footage growth, and capital spending. Accordingly, in 2009, we are now projecting the following: a reduction in 2009 year-end merchandise inventories in the range of 10% to 12% versus previous guidance in the range of 7% to 10%; catalog circulation reductions in the range of 15 to 20%, unchanged from previous guidance; retail leased square footage growth (net of closures) of approximately 2% versus previous guidance of 3%; and capital spending in the range of $90 million to $100 million versus previous guidance in the range of $95 million to $105 million. All of these initiatives will allow us to maintain our financial flexibility, while at the same time focus on those strategic objectives that will enhance our competitive positioning when these macro headwinds subside.”

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