Pier 1 Imports to close Visalia store in restructuring

Pier 1 Imports plans to close as many as 145 stores this year as part of corporate restructuring

By John Lindt
Sierra2theSea News Service

VISALIA – After years of staving off corporate closures, recent developments have shown that not even the strong retail economy in Visalia can outperform the overall decline of retail.

In April, home goods retailer Pier 1 Imports announced it could close as many as 145 more stores in the fiscal year as part of restructuring to reduce expenses. The Texas-based retail chain has some 973 stores in the chain including several in the Central Valley and along the Central Coast.

Now it looks like the Visalia store at Packwood Creek on Mooney Boulevard is on the chopping block after the real estate broker marketing the 11,000 square foot property says the store will close at the end of October and they were entertaining offers to lease the space from new tenants. The retail building, located at 4016 S. Mooney Blvd., is shown on their website as available as of November 1. The company sells a variety of furniture, home decor and other accessories.

On April 17, interim CEO Cheryl Bachelder told investors the retailer was implementing an action plan designed to drive benefits in fiscal 2020 of approximately $100-$110 million by resetting its gross margin and cost structure. After closing 30 stores in fiscal 2019, Pier 1 is considering closing up to 45 locations in fiscal 2020 as leases expire but left the door open to close up to 15% of its 970 stores if the Company is unable to achieve performance goals, sales targets, and reductions in occupancy and other costs.

“We are continuing to focus on opportunities and initiatives to help drive incremental benefits in the coming years, creating the runway to return our brand to long-term health and sustainable financial performance,” Bachelder stated. “I am pleased to see our teams executing against our new action plan with urgency and believe our customer will return to a revitalized Pier 1 this fall.”

The announcement was made as part of the company’s fourth quarter financial report, which reported that the company’s comparable sales decreased 13.5% compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2019 and net sales decreased 15.5% to $314.3 million compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2019.

“As anticipated, our fourth-quarter sales and profitability were disappointing and reflect the execution issues we identified earlier in the year and have been working with urgency to correct,” Bachelder said in a released statement.

Net sales for the fiscal year ended March 2, 2019 were $1.6 billion, a decrease of 13.7% compared to $1.8 billion for the 53-week period of fiscal 2018. Comparable sales for fiscal year ended March 2, 2019 decreased 11.0% and net sales were down 13.7%.

The writing was on the wall for the company a month earlier when Pier 1 announced an overhaul of its corporate officers. The organizational redesign resulted in a net reduction of approximately 20 positions, including the filling of open positions and additional new hires Pier 1 expects to complete over the course of fiscal 2020.

“Since stepping into the role of Interim CEO in December 2018, my primary focus has been to work with the leadership team in developing an action plan to return the Company to growth and set Pier 1 up for future success,” said Cheryl Bachelder, Pier 1’s Interim CEO and a member of its Board of Directors. “We have approached this important task with a sense of urgency, establishing a narrow set of immediate strategic priorities and leveraging opportunities to improve how we operate and deliver the style, value and selection of merchandise that our customer wants. Our new organizational structure sets the right foundation for a series of steps we plan to take in the coming months across the areas of merchandising, marketing, margins and costs. This redesign organizes our leaders and associates around critical competencies and will enable us to reorient how we invest in our company to support the business over the long term.”

Founded with a single store in 1962, Pier 1 is a leading omnichannel retailer of unique home décor and accessories. The company’s products are available through more than 970 Pier 1 stores in the U.S. and Canada and online at pier1.com.

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