NEW YORK — Choosing caution over risk, The Talbots Inc. Wednesday posted higher third-quarter earnings despite lower comparable-store sales.
Income for the three months ended Nov. 2 was up 2 percent to $37.4 million, or 63 cents a diluted share, from $36.6 million, or 58 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Sales rose 2 percent to $401.8 million versus $393.9 million. Retail sales gained 4 percent to $339.7 million from $325.7 million, despite a same-store sales decline of 3.2 percent. Catalog sales fell 9 percent to $62.1 million from $68.2 million.
Arnold B. Zetcher, chairman, president and chief executive officer, noted in a statement that the 3.2 percent comp decline was better than the negative mid-single-digit decrease anticipated. "Behind this improvement was a significant increase in our regular-price sales, as we ended the quarter with a 1.7 percent comparable-store gain in October," he explained.
During a conference call, executives said sales of casual merchandise — driven by high demand for wrinkle-free blouses and other easy-care products — were healthy, while demand for jackets was weak. Overall, Talbots Woman and Petites are performing above the core Misses business. The company in the quarter kept inventory levels lean, focusing on replenishing key items as needed.
Zetcher said the firm plannedin-store marketing events, such as a 15 percent discount to its best customers and an in-store sweater promotion set for next month. He noted that sales from the initial fall catalog mailing were weak, but stronger in the remailing, suggesting that consumers were "buying closer to need."
Richard Jaffe, analyst at UBS Warburg, wrote in a research note that the company began posting strong sweater sales in October. That should bode well for the holiday season, he wrote, since the category accounts for 23 percent of sales.
Three new Talbots Men concept stores are slated to open in spring 2003, with three more in the fall. The first three to be opened are at Main Street in Westport, Conn; Worthington Square in Worthington, Ohio, and King of Prussia Mall in Philadelphia. Sweaters have sold well in the men’s stores, and the average sale of $198 exceeds the $189 average in the Misses business.In the quarter, the firm opened 29 new stores and closed one, bringing the quarter-ending count to 874. The company said it will open 97 new stores in 2003, up from the originally planned opening of 92. Six will be closed.
The company stuck with its fourth-quarter earnings-per-share estimate of between 48 cents and 53 cents. Comps are expected down in the mid-single digits.
For the nine months, income fell 2 percent to $92.4 million, or $1.52 a diluted share, from $94.5 million, or $1.48, a year ago. Sales dipped 1 percent to $1.16 billion versus $1.18 billion. Retail sales were up slightly to $984.4 million from $983.3 million, with same-store sales falling 6.9 percent. Catalog sales dropped 9 percent to $179.1 million from $196 million.
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews