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Williams-Sonoma (NYSE: WSM) | Company Profile, History, Competitors


Williams-Sonoma (NYSE: WSM) is a multi-channel home furnishings retailer. It has three main concepts: Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn and West Elm. As of 2017, WSM has 631 stores across its various brands in the United States. It was founded in 1956 and headquartered in San Francisco, CA.

The company was founded in 1956 by Charles Williams. It opened its first store in Sonoma, CA.  In 1986, the company acquired Pottery Barn from The Gap. In 2002, the company launched the West Elm brand. The company provides various home furnishings and decor across its various brands.

Business Overview

WSM operates in six main store concepts:
  • Pottery Barn (203 stores, 39% of 2018 Revenues): Sells home furnishing products.
  • West Elm (106 stores, 21% of 2018 Revenues): Sells modern furniture and decor.
  • Williams-Sonoma (228 stores, 19% of 2018 Revenues): Namesake brand offering high-quality products for kitchen and home.
  • Pottery Barn Kids (86 stores, 12% of 2018 Revenues): Sells kids furniture products.
  • PBteen (4% of 2018 Revenues): Sells furniture products for teenagers.
  • Other (8 stores, 4% of 2018 Revenues) Rejuvenation and Mark & Graham brands.

Pottery Barn Segment

Pottery Barn was founded in 1949. The brand is focused on a casual setting rather than a modern feel. The stores sell furniture, bedding, rugs, curtains, lighting and outdoor products. The average store is 6,600 square feet.

West Elm Segment

The concept was launched in 2002. The stores offer modern furniture including bedding, bathroom accessories, rugs, lighting and houseware.

Williams-Sonoma Segment

The namesake brand was founded in 1956 with the first store opening in California in 1956. The stores offer kitchen tools, utensils, kitchen appliances and accessories. In 2005, the company expanded the brand into furniture through the Williams-Sonoma Home concept.

Pottery Barn Kids Segment

The concept was founded as a children's furniture catalog in 1999. The first store was opened in 2000. The stores offer children's furniture and accessories to decorate nurseries, bedrooms and playspaces.

PBteen Segment

The concept was launched in 2003. The stores offer furniture, bedding, decor to teenagers for bedrooms and dorms.

Other Segment

WSM has two additional brands Rejuvenation and Mark and Graham.
  • Rejuvenation Offers lighting, hardware and home decor with an antique feel
  • Mark and Graham offers personalized gift buying including bags, accessories, leather goods, jewelry and paper products..

Suppliers and Logistics

WSM directly sources products with suppliers around the world. A majority of products come from Asia and Europe.

WSM operates five distribution centers and 31 furniture hubs. Products are shipped from vendors to the distribution centers/hubs and then are delivered to customers.


The company was founded in 1956 by Charles Williams. The first store opened in Sonoma, CA but was relocated to San Francisco, CA. The second store opened in Beverly Hills, CA in 1973.

In 1983, it went public in an initial public offering. In 1986, the company acquired Pottery Barn from The Gap. In 2002, WSM launched the West Elm brand. In 2011, the company acquired Rejuvenation, a lighting fixtures company. In 2012, WSM launched Mark and Graham.


WSM's main brick-and-mortar competitors are Ashley Furniture, IKEA, Rooms to Go, Restoration Hardware, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Ethan Allen.

WSM's main online competitors are Wayfair and Amazon.


Laura J. Alber (CEO): Lauren Alber serves as CEO since 2010. Prior, she served in various roles at Williams-Sonoma including President Pottery Barn and Senior Buyer at Williams-Sonoma. She has also worked at The Gap and Contempo-Casuals.

Julie P. Whalen (CFO): Julie Whalen serves as CFO since 2012. Prior, she served in various roles at Williams-Sonoma including Treasurer, Controller, and Assistant Controller. She had also worked as an Auditor at KPMG.


 $ USD mm FY1/31  
 2013    2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
 Revenues $4,043 
 Gross Profit $1,593 
 Operating Profit $409 
 Net Income$257 

  Ticker     NYSE: WSM
  Industry Retail
  Founded 1956
  Headquarters San Francisco, CA
  Locations 631
$5.3bn (FY2018)
  Employees 10,900 (FY2018)