Howard Lester, CEO of Williams-Sonoma, Talks About Building a Brand on The CEO Show with Robert Reiss
Howard Lester, Chairman and CEO of Williams-Sonoma Inc., interviewed on The CEO Show with Robert Reiss, explains the significance of building a brand, innovation, and customer loyalty that have powered the business to produce revenues approaching $4 billion annually. Lester discusses the expansion of the Williams-Sonoma network of stores, the customer service philosophy, and enlarging the span of customer demographics reached by the business.
Lester then speaks about how the impact of the Pottery Barn acquisition in 1986 has been instrumental in broadening the Williams-Sonoma range of product offerings and scale of operations. Reiss asks about the extraordinary growth and Lester explains how he recognized the opportunity for a national brand and the process of bringing that to fruition. They discuss how founder Chuck Williams’s focus on buying top quality European culinary equipment was the foundation for differentiation, which under Lester’s leadership ultimately helped reinvent how Americans viewed their kitchens as the focal point of the American home.
Williams-Sonoma, Inc., with executive offices in San Francisco, CA, expanded exponentially under Lester since he took the helm in 1978, when there were only 4 stores, which were actually losing money. Williams-Sonoma was originally founded by Chuck Williams who was inspired by his visit to Paris in 1952. By 1956 this vision was transformed into his first store located in downtown Sonoma. By the end of 3Q 2007, the business had grown to 581 stores, a workforce of about 38,000 employees, and multiple Williams-Sonoma brands and distribution channels.
Information about Williams-Sonoma, Inc. is available at the website: www.williams-sonomainc.com
Directly following this interview with Lester , Reiss talks with Simon Cooper, President of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company L.L.C.
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