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Alber to head Williams-Sonoma

Williams-Sonoma has announced that its longtime chairman and CEO, Howard Lester, will retire in May and the retailer will name its president, Laura Alber, as CEO and will nominate her as a board member.

Lester, who has led the company since 1978 when he bought it from its founder, Chuck Williams, will remain a consultant to the company through December 2012 and will have the title chairman emeritus.

Williams-Sonoma also said its board will name Adrian Bellamy, now lead independent director and a board member since 1997, as non-executive chairman.

It also will nominate Sharon McCollam to the board. She has been executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer since 2006 and has been with the company since 2000. In addition, Pat Connolly, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, will be re-nominated to the board.

When Lester acquired Williams-Sonoma, it had four stores, a small catalog and $4 million in revenue. Today, it is one of the world's largest multi-channel specialty retailers with six e-commerce Web sites, seven catalogs and more than 600 stores. Its brands include home furnishings retailer Pottery Barn.

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