FORT WORTH, TX-Pier 1 Imports same-store sales have taken a beating this year, but executives say they are hopeful that 2005 will bring gains in that area as well as others, they said during their Q3 conference call. A new advertising campaign could help bolster that strategy, they said.

Pier 1 officials decided not to run any television advertising in the fall because of competition with the presidential elections. They also weren’t getting the expected results from their campaign at the time, which featured “Queer Eye For the Straight Guy” actor Thom Filicia as spokesman. The company has hired a new advertising agency, Deutsche Inc., in efforts to attract a younger customer.

For the quarter Pier 1 posted a year-over-year same-store sales plunge of 6.3%, and so far this year, they are down 3.7%. Executives predicted a same-store sales drop of 2% to 6% in December and a Q4 dip in the low-to-middle single digits. The chain has especially faced competition from discounters like Target, which are cutting into their share of the specialty home furnishings sector, officials said.

To combat its recent performance the company will concentrate on stronger seasonal offerings and broaden price-points for items such as glasses, said Marvin J. Girouard, the Company’s Chairman and CEO. “We have always worked through these challenges,” said Girouard, who predicted that same-store sales would turn around next year.

During the quarter Pier 1, which currently operates about 1,000 units in North America, opened 31 stores and closed 11. For the year, it plans to open 110 and close 40. Next year, the company will open from 70 to 75 units. Pier 1 is also converting the name of all 50 of its Cargokids children’s stores to Pier 1 Kids by March and plans on opening 10 to 15 of those units next year.

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