Williams-Sonoma: Profits Plunge 90 Percent

Net income fell as the home décor chain closed underperforming stores and laid off workers.

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With the housing slump and tight credit markets reducing demand for home furnishings, high-end retailer Williams-Sonoma Inc. said its fourth-quarter profit plunged 90 percent.

The San Francisco-based company, which operates retail chains Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, and West Elm, reported fiscal fourth-quarter net income of $12.2 million, or 12 cents per share, down from $124.6 million, or $1.15 per share, a year earlier.

The company cut 1,400 jobs, or 18 percent of its workforce, and shut down several underperforming stores in the fourth quarter. It expects losses in the next two quarters and says it probably will not turn a profit until the fiscal fourth quarter of 2009.

Chairman and Chief Executive Howard Lester told investors during a conference call Tuesday that, although the quarter was better than expected, the retailer struggled to get customers to part with their cash.