Pier 1 Imports will close 100 stores

Pier 1 Imports, the biggest U.S. retailer of imported furniture, said it will shutter 100 stores, including all its clearance and Pier 1 Kids operations, instead of a previously announced estimate of 60 store closures.

What that means for the Pier 1 store at 3425 Crater Lake Highway in north Medford is unclear. "We do it on a case-by-case basis and we don't announce it until we close the store," according to Misty Otto, spokeswoman for the Fort Worth, Texas-based company.

If local management has any idea of what's ahead, there was no hint for what's in store for its 10 or so employees.

Pier 1, which runs a fiscal year beginning in March, announced a net loss of $56 million for its fiscal first quarter that ended June 2, with total sales declining 5.2 percent and same-store sales declining 5.4 percent. The company had more than $1.6 billion in sales during fiscal 2007.

Alex W. Smith, the company's president and chief executive officer, said during a conference call that Pier 1 didn't open any stores during the first quarter, and closed 12, ending the quarter with 1,184 stores. For fiscal 2008, the company expects to open five new stores, and close 100 locations, leaving the company with 1,021 stores in the U.S and 81 stores in Canada.

Pier 1 opened its Rogue Valley store 10 years ago this month. When the 6,664-square-foot store opened in Crater Lake Plaza it was the 710th store in the chain at the time.

Otto said the company will try to sub-lease the store space if it closes. The Medford location along Crater Lake Highway is at the region's highest traffic location.

The company also said it will discontinue e-commerce and catalog operations Aug. 31. Online sales grew to $18.9 million, but that wasn't enough to offset losses reaching $227.6 million, year-to-date. Pier 1 was also working on building its e-commerce site, which was drawing 5.7 million visitors a month. The retailer also will close its catalog operations. However, pier1.com will still exist as a corporate marketing site.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or at business@mailtribune.com

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