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FORT WORTH, TX-In an effort to get back to its core business and return to profitability, Pier 1 Imports Inc. officials said during the company’s first-quarter conference call that they are going to shut 100 stores this year, including all of clearance stores and Pier 1 Kids stores, instead of its previously announced estimate of 60 store closures. The company announced a net loss of $56 million for the first quarter, with total sales declining 5.2% and same-store sales declining 5.4%.

The company claims it has liquidated all “modern craftsman merchandise,” has cut administrative and marketing costs by $19 million and will now focus on its remaining Pier 1 stores. “We’ve been very busy cleaning house,” said Alex W. Smith, the company’s president and CEO. “We expect to return to sustainable levels by the end of the second quarter.”

He said during the call that Pier 1 didn’t open any stores during the first quarter, and closed 12, ending the quarter with 1,184 stores. For fiscal 2008, the company expects to open five new stores, and close 100 locations, leaving the company with 1,021 stores in the US and 81 stores in Canada.

“It’s become very clear to me that…we need to focus 100% on core stores,” Smith said. “We decided to exit all non-Pier 1 store activity. We’re also closing our existing e-commerce and catalog business, but will keep pier1.com for marketing purposes. The more we focus on the core stores, the better we’ll do.” He says the company is also going to redesign the stores to a more department-store type layout, to make them easier to shop.

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