Lester to Retire from Williams-Sonoma, Alber Gets CEO Spot
January 27, 2010,
SAN FRANCISCO--Howard Lester, the long-time head of Williams-Sonoma who took a minor kitchenware store and built into the home industry's largest lifestyle retailer, is retiring.
Lester will be replaced as CEO by his number two executive Laura Alber, the current president. Adrian Bellamy, currently the board's lead independent director, will become non-executive chairman and Lester will become chairman emeritus through December 2012.
Lester has led Williams-Sonoma since 1978, when he purchased the company from founder Chuck Williams. Since then the retailer has grown from four stores, a catalog and $4 million in annual revenues to its current status with more than 600 stores through the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and (soon) the Middle East; six e-commerce Web sites; and seven catalogs. In addition to its namesake unit, it operates Pottery Barn, West Elm and Williams-Sonoma Home among other brands.
The announcement made Tuesday afternoon says the retirement will take effect at the company's May 2010 annual shareholders' meeting.