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From Home Furnishing Business

Pier 1 CEO to Resign; Retailer Forecasts Lower Q2 Sales

Retailer Pier 1 (PIR) Imports said its board of directors has “mutually agreed” with President and CEO Alex Smith that he will resign effective Dec. 31.

Smith, who has been CEO for nearly 10 years, gave no reason for the move, but issued a statement saying it had been “a joy” to lead the Pier 1 team.

“Our wonderful associates across the organization have inspired me every day. Together we have achieved a great deal of success, sustained by our exceptional culture,” Smith said. “I have greatly enjoyed working with our associates, who bring life to our stores, and our merchant team, which brings passion and creativity to the brand. I am profoundly grateful to my senior leadership team for their desire and commitment to pushing the boundaries of our knowledge and experience in this new era of retailing.”

The move was announced the same day the retailer said it expects a sales decline of about 6.7% in its fiscal second quarter. The retailer said comparable-brand sales, which include e-commerce, were off about 4.3%.

Pier 1 also said it expects to report a second-quarter loss of 5 cents to 6 cents per share, not including one-time charges related to Smith’s departure.

“Although ongoing store traffic challenges impacted our top line results, we were able to drive year-over-year improvement in our merchandise margin rate through a more balanced promotional strategy and improved operational execution in our distribution centers,” Smith said. “We continue to focus on closely managing inventories and ended the quarter with inventory levels down approximately 10% from a year ago.”

Pier 1 Chairman Terry London credited Smith leading a turn-around of the company following the Great Recession, and then spearheading its transformation from a pure brick-and-mortar retailer to a multi-channel platform where e-commerce now accounts for about 20% of revenue.

“We greatly appreciate Alex’s many years of leadership and considerable contributions to Pier 1 Imports,” London said. “The company is now well positioned with the infrastructure, capabilities and brand equity to effectively compete in the changing retail environment. On behalf of the board of directors, we all wish Alex the best going forward.”

The company said it has retained the search firm Korn Ferry to conduct a search for the new CEO.

Complete financial results for the second quarter will be released Sept. 28.

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