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FORT WORTH, TX-Pier 1 Imports Inc. slashed itsloss during the third quarter to $7.2 million, downfrom $12.5 million in the first quarter and $10.2million in the second quarter. The third-quarter lossindicates that the chain’s performance is improvingwith an eight cent loss per share compared to 14 centsfor the first quarter and 12 cents for the secondquarter.

Moreover, same-stores sales support the fact thatPier 1 is slowly emerging from its downward spiral asQ3 comps decreased 6.5%compared to 12% in the first quarter and 7.7% in thesecond quarter. Sales during the quarter were $476.2million, a 2.4% decline from last year’s $487.7, butan improvement from earlier this year.

Pier 1 chairman and CEO Marvin J. Girouard said duringthe third quarter earnings conference call that hecontinues to be disappointed with the chain’sperformance. “Our continued challenge this year hasbeen to improve customer traffic levels anddifferentiate Pier 1 Imports stores from otherretailers through the development of more effectivemarketing and merchandising programs,” he said.

To that end, the company is focused on four keystrategies to improve performance: marketing,merchandising, pricing and in-store experience. Thechain’s future marketing will focus on television,magazine and catalogs. And next spring Pier 1 willintroduce an entirely new line of merchandise – onethat the chain describes as “stylish, comfortable andbetter quality with a compelling and modern slant.”

The new merchandising program has been in developmentfor more than one year, Girourad said, adding that thechain’s executive team, based on market research,believes the new merchandise points the retailer inthe right direction.

During the quarter, Pier 1 continued to expand,opening 29 stores and closing four. At the end of thethird quarter the chain operated 1,197 Pier 1 storesin North America. It plans to open another 34 storesduring the fourth quarter.

New store openings accounted for the bulk of thechain’s capital expenditures this year, which willreach $55 million by the end of the fourth quarter, adecrease from $99 million in 2004, according toCharles H. Turner, executive vice president, CFO andtreasurer of Pier 1.

Turner said during the conference call that the chaindeclined to provide fourth quarter earnings guidancebecause of the uncertainty of the business. Moreover,he said that fourth quarter comp-store sales areexpected to be in the negative single-digits unlessholiday traffic and sales improve over the next weekand a half.

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