Pier 1's Latest Catalog Has Lofty Prospecting Goals

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Besides being designed to update the company's image with more contemporary merchandise, home furnishings retailer Pier 1 Imports Inc.'s most recent catalog also had a mailing list consisting of many more prospects than previous efforts.

Pier 1 launched its catalog on a national basis last fall with 2.8 million copies. The catalog aims to increase store traffic and drive sales across the board for the brand.

The book's circulation has been slowly building since, though the company's fortunes have not. The Fort Worth, TX, retailer has reported same-store sales declines and net losses repeatedly over the past year.

On July 6, the firm said that sales for the five weeks ended July 1 declined 15.7 percent compared with last year while same-store sales dropped 18.4 percent.

In mid-March, Pier 1 began a brand repositioning that included moving away from the broad selection of imported goods it has become known for and toward a sleeker, more contemporary merchandise selection that several other retailers and catalogs, including West Elm and CB2, are already embracing.

Pier 1 is calling the new look Modern Craftsman.

The July catalog, delivered to homes the week of July 17, introduces Loft 21, the first collection under the new direction. Some items from the collection highlighted in the book are exclusive to Pier 1, including handcrafted Barton accent tables that "combine architectural lines and straightforward style," according to the catalog. Three sizes range in price from $175 to $250 apiece.

The Loft 21 collection also includes brushed aluminum picture frames, throw pillows, handmade Double Dip glassware and place mats made from iron shaped into circles.

The catalog will be distributed to a number of prospects from Pier 1's updated mailing list. Pier 1 is targeting its traditional customer as well as a secondary group: consumers in their mid-30s to mid-40s, with a slightly larger disposable income and who have more interest in home decor, company spokeswoman Misty Otto said.

With 36 pages and a circulation of 9 million, the July book is slightly smaller on both fronts than recent efforts, Ms. Otto said. However, this is because it is a midsummer book.

In addition to the catalog and television and print advertising, the launch of Loft 21 is being supported with Internet and direct mail tests, the company said.

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