CEO explains how Williams-Sonoma deals with a difficult housing market

We're focused on what we can control, which has worked for us in the long-term: Williams-Sonoma CEO

In a Wednesday interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer, Williams-Sonoma CEO Laura Alber explained how her company handles a tough housing market.

“The customer isn’t shopping for as much furniture as they were because of the housing slump, but they are, you know, still updating their homes,” Alber said. “They love their homes, it’s their biggest asset. So, we’ve leaned into what we call ‘easy updates,’ things that you do to your house even when you’re not moving.”

Williams-Sonoma owns several brands besides its namesake housewares business, including West Elm and Pottery Barn. The company reported an earnings beat on Wednesday, but saw weakness in its Pottery Barn brand. Although shares opened up they were down nearly 11% by the close of trading.

Alber acknowledged that Pottery Barn was affected by high housing costs, but said Williams-Sonoma is doing better than industry rivals. To Alber, her company has a competitive advantage because it designs its own products, and it has more diverse offerings.

“We’re not just a furniture brand, you know, we have seasonal holidays, we have collaborations, we celebrate life-stage events,” she said. “And that’s what’s given us a lot of resilience even in what’s a more difficult market.”

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