Talbots Reports Year-End Gains, Plans Online Shopping Launch

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The Talbots Inc., Hingham, MA, said this week that its full-price selling strategy led to gains in sales and profits for the fourth quarter and year ended Jan. 31, compared with the previous year, and it hopes to begin offering its products through the Internet in time for the year-end holiday shopping season.


For the 13-week period ended Jan. 31, the company, a retailer and cataloger of women's apparel and shoes, reported profits of $8.12 million, or 26 cents a share, vs. a loss of $10.35 million, or 32 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Net sales increased about 7 percent, to $335.37 million, compared with net sales of $312.24 million in the year-ago fourth quarter. Catalog sales in the recent period were $51.4 million, up about 11 percent over year-ago catalog sales of $46.1 million.


The company said its profits for the year totaled $36.67 million, or $1.15 a share, on net sales of $1.14 billion, which is up from profits of $5.84 million, or 18 cents a share, on net sales of $1.05 billion in the preceding year. Catalog sales for the year were $169.2 million, up about 6 percent from sales of $159.2 million a year ago.


In addition to the launch of online shopping, plans for the coming year include the spring introduction of a national TV advertising campaign and the addition of 35-40 new retail stores. The company currently operates 644 stores -- primarily under the Talbots Misses and Talbots Petites brands -- and last year circulated about 53 million catalogs.
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