Aggressive markdowns pushed The Talbots Inc. to a $53.3 million fourth-quarter loss and the company said it continued to explore its “strategic alternatives” — corporate speak for looking for a buyer.

This story first appeared in the April 13, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The retailer said there was no definitive timetable for its strategic review, which is being conducted with the help of Perrella Weinberg Partners. The Hingham, Mass.-based chain plans to continue shuttering stores and searching for a successor for president and chief executive officer Trudy F. Sullivan as that process winds on.

The quarterly losses translated into 77 cents a diluted share and compared with losses of $2.8 million, or 4 cents, a year earlier. Revenues for the three months ended Jan. 28 decreased 1.1 percent to $289.4 million from $292.6 million.

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

Talbots finished the year with 517 stores, having closed 82 doors last year. The retailer plans to shutter another 30 stores over the next year or so.

For the full year, Talbots posted net losses of $111.9 million on sales of $1.14 billion.

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