Pottery Barn doesn't sell pottery per se, but it does sell furniture on which pottery can be displayed. The retailer sells casual home furnishings and accessories, such as sofas, tables, bedding, and tableware, at some 195 Pottery Barn stores across the US and Canada. Pottery Barn also sells its wares by catalog and online. The company's Pottery Barn Kids chain operates about 85 retail stores and a separate website. Two other specialty brands PBteen (launched in 2003) and Pottery Barn Bed and Bath sell merchandise through catalogs and their websites only. Pottery Barn, which has roots that go back to 1949, is owned by home furniture and cookware retailer Williams-Sonoma.
Like much of the retail sector, Pottery Barn experienced a steep decline in revenue as a result of the housing crisis and deep recession in the US. However, in fiscal 2011 (ends January) the retailer's sales rebounded. Same-store sales at Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids stores increased by more than 14% and 13%, respectively, after posting declines in each of the prior two fiscal years. And while Williams-Sonoma doesn't break out financial performance for its individual chains, it did say that its 18% increase in direct-to-consumer revenues in fiscal 2011 was driven by its Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, and PBteen brands.
In response to the fall off in business, Pottery Barn has been reducing its store count. Indeed, since fiscal 2009 the retailer has closed about 20 Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids stores. The chain, which has had more success with its direct-to-consumer business than brick-and-mortar operation of late, will close about five Pottery Barn locations in fiscal 2012. On the international front, the first Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids stores opened in Dubai and Kuwait in 2010 through a franchise agreement with M.H. Alshaya Co.
Parent Williams-Sonoma purchased Pottery Barn from clothing retailer The Gap in 1986. (The Gap had owned the company for just two years.) Shortly thereafter, Pottery Barn began publishing catalogs. Pottery Barn began selling merchandise online in 2000. The chain also operates outlet stores in about 10 states.