NEW YORK — After eking out a meager comparable-store sales gain in June, management for Talbots Inc. is anticipating a repeat performance in July.

This story first appeared in the July 15, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In a presentation at the CIBC World Markets Consumer Growth Conference held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston Wednesday, Ed Larsen, senior vice president and chief financial officer, said the company expects July comps to be essentially flat. This, after the Hingham, Mass.-based company reported a 0.9 percent comp gain in June.

According to Larsen, the company’s core women’s business remains strong, targeting affluent and educated women between the ages of 35 and 55. However, continued problems in the dressy and kids segments have weighed down results.

“Sales in our dressy and kids areas were weaker than anticipated,” said Larsen referring to June results. “These businesses have been especially soft all spring and continue to have a significant negative impact on our total company results.” Larsen went on to say that management intentionally reduced its investment in dresses. Despite this, performance remains below expectations.

The falloff in customer traffic began in the later weeks of June. “Quite dramatically, in weeks four and five the traffic slowed,” said Larsen. “We missed our markdown selling quite a bit in each week.” Larsen noted that the slowdown occurred across all concepts and that larger retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target had reported similar occurrences in their sales results.

Even with a continued slowdown in July, the company believes second-quarter earnings per share will meet previous guidance of between 33 cents and 35 cents a share.

Shares of Talbots fell 5.9 percent to close at $31.50 in New York Stock Exchange trading on Wednesday.

— Ross Tucker