By  on November 7, 2007

Higher gas prices, sagging consumer confidence and the prospects of higher energy costs this winter is making conditions at retail difficult for retailers and vendors alike. Talbots, Coach, Dress Barn and others all warned of the expected negative impact of macroeconomic forces on business.

As a result, some companies are repositioning themselves to weather the storm. Late last month, management at Jones Apparel Group Inc. said the company is not for sale and reiterated that the firm's core brands will be key to its success.

Wesley R. Card, chief executive officer of Jones, told WWD that the company has a three-pronged business focus: people, product and execution. "I'm not a designer and not, technically, a merchant," said Card. "But I can see the difference between a good product and a bad product....Our goal is just to be the best supplier to retailers."

For the third quarter period, Jones' bottom line jumped to $400 million on the sale of Barneys New York. This compares to $63 million in the prior year. Total revenues slid to $1.03 billion from $1.08 billion.

That same week, Liz Claiborne Inc. posted net income that fell 65 percent in the third quarter. The drop came as retailers canceled orders. For the three months ended Sept. 29, net income fell to $33.1 million, or 33 cents a diluted share, from $95.2 million, or 93 cents, in the same period last year as sales shed 4 percent to $1.26 billion from $1.31 billion.

William L. McComb, ceo, told WWD that "the environment is tough and retailers are being conservative."

Meanwhile, Dress Barn Inc. lowered its full-year guidance based on declining same-store sales estimates.

The company said it expects full-year guidance for diluted earnings per share to be between $1.25 and $1.35. This companies to a prior forecast of $1.40 to $1.50. The company also lowered first-quarter diluted EPS expectations to the range of 30 cents to 32 cents.

To read the articles relating to this story, see:

Dress Barn Cuts Guidance On Soft Same-Store Sales
Claiborne Earnings Slide 65% in 3rd Quarter
Sticking With the Plan: Jones CEO Sees Growth In Firm's Existing Model

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