Talbots to sell J. Jill

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The Talbots Inc. is pursuing a sale of the J. Jill brand in order to focus on its core Talbots business - a move that comes just two years after it acquired the J. Jill business for $517 million.

 “We have made great strides in re-energizing the Talbots brand and are encouraged by both our existing and lapsed customers' response to our product and marketing efforts,” said Trudy F. Sullivan, president and CEO at Talbots, in a statement. Given the current economic situation, the company wants to focus solely on continuing the turnaround of its core brand.

The news was announced as part of Talbots third quarter sales results, which showed that sales for the 13 weeks ended November 1 totaled $357 million, compared to $414 million last year. Operating results for J. Jill, Talbots Kids, Mens and UK were reclassified as discontinued for the third quarter. Therefore, these numbers reflect results for the Talbots brand.

Comparable store sales declined 13.9% during the same period.

Third-quarter direct marketing sales totaled $54 million, compared to $69 million last year.

Year-to-date sales totaled $1,167 million compared to $1,280 million last year. Comparable store sales declined 10.9% for the year-to-date week period.

Internet sales continue to gain traction, and now represent 59% of the total direct business, compared to 53% for the same period last year.

Talbots also reports that its brand marketing strategy to reactivate lapsed customers, which was driven by direct mail initiatives, led to a solid increase in response rate. The company also experienced an increase in multichannel shoppers in the quarter.

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