Talbots to review brand positioning

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Talbots Inc. has retained a business consulting firm to assist in a strategic review of the company's brand positioning. The Hingham, MA-based company is looking to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to drive sustainable profitable growth and enhance performance after posting results in the second quarter. The name of the consulting firm was not revealed.

For the quarter ended Aug. 4, Talbots said consolidated sales totaled $572 million. By brand, retail store sales were $392 million for Talbots compared to $404 million last year, and were $80 million for J. Jill compared to $73 million last year. Comparable store sales declined 4.8 percent for the quarter.

Consolidated direct marketing sales for the thirteen-week period totaled $100 million, including catalog and Internet, compared to $95 million last year.

In September, the company announced plans to conduct a competitive review of agencies for its Talbots brand advertising account. The most recent initiative, coupled with the multichannel merchant's own internal assessments, will be used to bring about appropriate changes in the way the company does business.

In addition to the positioning and expansion opportunities of the Talbots and J. Jill brands, the consulting engagement will address store growth, productivity, non-core concepts and distribution channels. The consulting engagement is expected to be completed by the first quarter of fiscal 2008.

"The decision to evaluate the positioning of our brands in the marketplace is one of the important initiatives that our team is undertaking," said Trudy Sullivan, president and CEO of Talbots Inc., in a statement.

The company also announced that Philip Kowalczyk, president of J. Jill Group Inc., has been named COO of Talbots Inc. In his new role, Kowalczyk will be responsible for Talbots Inc. strategic planning and international, the Talbots brand direct marketing and customer service operation.

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