Loss widens at Talbots

HINGHAM, Mass. — Talbots' fourth-quarter loss widened to $53.2 million, or 77 cents per share, from last year’s loss from continuing operations of $2.8 million, or 4 cents per share. 

Fiscal year 2011 loss from continuing operations was $111.8 million, or $1.62 per share, compared with last year’s income from continuing operations of $7.6 million, or 11 cents per share. 

Trudy Sullivan, Talbots president and CEO, said, “Our fourth quarter performance reflects an aggressive promotional and markdown strategy in a challenging retail environment. This resulted in a sequential improvement in both customer traffic and sales trends compared to the third quarter. We were able to clear through excess merchandise to better position ourselves for spring, ending the year with total inventories up approximately 4%. We remain focused on enhancing our product and executing our key strategic initiatives, as the Board continues its evaluation of a full range of strategic alternatives.”

The company reported that net sales decreased 1.1% to $289.4 million, compared with $292.6 million in the same period last year. Consolidated comparable sales, which includes stores, Internet, catalog and red-line sales, were approximately flat compared with the prior year, with both December and January positive at 1.6% and 3.2%, respectively. 

For the fiscal year 2011, net sales were $1.14 billion for the 52-week period, compared with $1.2 billion in the prior year. Consolidated comparable sales decreased 5.6%, which includes stores, Internet, catalog and red-line sales. 

During 2011, the company opened 18 Talbots upscale outlets, closed 69 Talbots stores and ended the year with 517 stores, comprised of 544 locations.

For the first quarter of 2012, Talbots said it expects total sales to be approximately $272 million, down approximately 9.6% compared to the same period last year, due in part to the impact of fiscal 2011 store closings as a result of the company’s store rationalization plan.


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