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Press release from Business Wire

West Elm Announces $35 Million Commitment to Artisan Sector and Increased Supply Chain Transparency

<p class='bwalignc'> <i><b>Commitment to Action Announced at 2013</b></i><b> <i>Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting</i></b> </p> <p> </p>

Friday, September 27, 2013

West Elm Announces $35 Million Commitment to Artisan Sector and Increased Supply Chain Transparency

16:07 EDT Friday, September 27, 2013

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (Business Wire) -- In continued support of artisan communities in the United States and globally, home furnishings retailer West Elm today announced its 2013 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action with a purchasing plan of $35 million in handcrafted products through 2015, a 40% increase in spend over the next two years. West Elm, a member of the Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (NYSE: WSM) portfolio of brands, also pledged to make and source these products from businesses adhering to high social responsibility, health and safety standards, meeting local laws, best industry practices and the brand's vendor code of conduct.

West Elm Istanbul Rug Handmade by Craftmark-certified Artisans in India (Photo: Business Wire)

West Elm Istanbul Rug Handmade by Craftmark-certified Artisans in India (Photo: Business Wire)

“West Elm has achieved 14 consecutive quarters of double-digit comparable brand revenue growth by listening to our customers, and our CGI Commitment to Action reflects our customers' passion for handcrafted products, as well as their growing concern for the preservation of cultural heritage and the safety of the hands behind the work,” said West Elm President Jim Brett.

“West Elm's CGI Commitment to Action formalizes the incredibly important work the brand, and our company, is doing to support and scale artisan business and protect the craftspeople involved in them,” said Laura Alber, President and Chief Executive Officer, Williams-Sonoma, Inc. “West Elm has seen incredible growth over the past three years, due in part to the brand's offering of unique handcrafted and artisan made products, a key differentiator in the market.”

Behind agriculture, artisan activity is the second largest employer in the developing world.1 Although large-scale investment facilitates economic opportunity and helps preserve traditional techniques, the systems put in place must also help artisans scale their businesses.

“West Elm's Commitment to Action will focus on helping our crafters and artisan makers grow their businesses sustainably and profitably, while maintaining and preserving the traditional handcraft techniques at the center of their work,” Brett continued. “We're proud to connect our customers to this inspiring global community by launching a new section of our website devoted to the stories behind West Elm's handcrafted products, sharing the beauty of basic materials and the amazing ability of human hands through videos, photography and storytelling.”

For a look into the world of handcraft at West Elm, visit westelm.com/handcrafted.

  • Over the course of the next two years, West Elm will work with a network of more than 20 artisan groups in 15 countries (including the United States, Columbia, Haiti, India, Mali, Nicaragua, Peru, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam), directly impacting the lives of 4,500 artisan workers and 18,000 family members.
  • Over half of these artisans are women who will be learning new skills to grow their businesses, supporting their families and themselves through the work they are doing.
  • West Elm utilizes UNESCO's definition of artisan products: Those produced by artisans, either completely by hand, or with the help of hand tools or even mechanical means, as long as the direct manual contribution of the artisan remains the most substantial component of the finished product. 2
  • West Elm uses many methods to verify compliance with high social responsibility, health and safety standards. All suppliers sign and abide by a Vendor Code of Conduct, West Elm adheres to the disclosure requirements of the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act and the brand takes several actions—including third-party audits and first-party factory reviews—to make sure commitments are met. For details and more information, see the brand's Corporate Labor Practices.

About West Elm

Mixing clean lines, natural materials and handcrafted collections from the US and globally, West Elm creates unique, affordable designs for modern living. Headquartered in Brooklyn, NY, the brand introduced its first catalog in 2002 and opened the doors of its first retail location in 2003. Customers can shop West Elm's complete collection of furniture and accessories for living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and dining rooms in 51 retail stores in the United States, Canada and Australia, and around-the-clock at www.westelm.com. West Elm is part of an active community on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram and a member of the Williams-Sonoma, Inc. portfolio of brands.

About Williams-Sonoma, Inc.

Williams-Sonoma, Inc. is a specialty retailer of high-quality products for the home. These products, representing eight distinct merchandise strategies – Williams-Sonoma (cookware and wedding registry), Pottery Barn (furniture and wedding registry), Pottery Barn Kids (kids' furniture and baby registry), PBteen (girls' bedding and boys' bedding), West Elm (modern furniture and room decor), Williams-Sonoma Home (luxury furniture and decorative accessories), Rejuvenation (lighting and hardware) and Mark and Graham (personalized gifts and gifts for the home) – are marketed through e-commerce websites, direct mail catalogs and 590 stores. Williams-Sonoma, Inc. currently operates in the United States, Canada and Australia, offers international shipping to customers worldwide, and has an unaffiliated franchisee that operates 25 stores in the Middle East.

About the Clinton Global Initiative

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,300 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 400 million people in over 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $73.5 billion.

CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world, and, this year, CGI Latin America, which will bring together Latin American leaders to identify, harness, and strengthen ways to improve the livelihoods of people in Latin America and around the world. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.

1 US Department of State & Aspen Institute, Launch of the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, November 23, 2012.
2 UNESCO/ITC Symposium “Crafts and the International Market: Trade and Customs Codification” Manila, 6-8 October 1997.

for West Elm:
Abigail Jacobs, 718-780-4488
ajacobs@wsgc.com
Nicole Sutliff, 718-780-4416
nsutliff@wsgc.com

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