FINANCE

Talbots Q4 loss widens on higher charges, promotions

BY Marianne Wilson

Hingham, Mass. — Talbots Inc.’s fourth-quarter loss widened to $53.2 million for the period ended Jan. 28, not as bad as analysts expected, compared to a loss of $2.8 million in the year ago. Its results were pressured by restructuring and executive retirement costs, as well as increased mark-downs and promotions. The chain also forecast first-quarter revenue that missed analysts’ expectations. Revenue for the quarter slipped 1% to $289.4 million from $292.6 million, but beat Wall Street’s estimate of $267.9 million. Same-store sales were flat.

“Our fourth quarter performance reflects an aggressive promotional and markdown strategy in a challenging retail environment,” said Talbots CEO Trudy Sullivan.

Talbots is currently searching for Sullivan’s replacement and exploring strategic options, including buyout offers.

“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,” Sullivan said.

In December, the retailer rejected a $205 million buyout bid from its biggest shareholder, private equity firm Sycamore Partners.

For the year, Talbots lost $111.9 million. Annual revenue decreased 6% to $1.14 billion, from $1.21 billion.

As previously announced, the chain will close 110 locations through fiscal 2013. It closed about 47 locations in the fourth quarter as part of a plan outlined in 2012.

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REAL ESTATE

Lord & Taylor opens in Westchester, N.Y.

BY Staff Writer

New York — Lord & Taylor has opened an 80,000-sq.-ft. store in Ridge Hill center, Westchester, N.Y.

The store, which cost a reported $30 million to build, has a very contemporary look and spacious feel, with large Italian white tiles throughout.

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OPERATIONS

Walmart and Humana team up on prescription program

BY Staff Writer

Bentonville, Ark. — Walmart is partnering with health services company Humana Inc. to offer a new prescription drug plan for insured employers and employees. Humana’s pharmacy benefits management subsidiary, Humana Pharmacy Solutions, will now offer the Walmart Rx Network. The partnership will also offer a new formulary, or approved drug list, called Rx4Value.

Humana said the new formulary and the Walmart Rx Network guarantee up to 20% savings on employers’ average prescription price. The program is available to self-insured employers and will be available to fully insured employers later this year.

“At Walmart, we’re committed to providing low-cost prescriptions and ensuring that people have affordable access to the medications they need to help them live healthier lives,” said John Agwunobi, president of Walmart U.S. health and wellness. “We are proud to team with Humana on this innovative benefit.”

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