Hurt by weak holiday sales, Talbots Inc. reported lower fourth-quarter earnings yesterday. For the 13-week period ended Feb. 1, catalog sales decreased 3 percent to $68.3 million from $70.5 million the previous year. Net income was down 13 percent or $28.3 million compared to $32.5 million a year ago.
For the fiscal year, net income was $120.8 million, a 5 percent drop from the $127 million reported for FY 01. Catalog sales were down 7 percent to $247.4 million versus $266.5 million a year ago.
“We opened a total of 92 new stores in fiscal 2002,” said Arnold B. Zetcher chairman, president and CEO. “In October, we launched our new concept, Talbots Men, in a separate catalog, which performed well above our expectations.”
Zetcher said the company will “proceed cautiously” in 2003, opening three Talbots Men stores next month in Westport, CT, Worthington, OH, and King of Prussia, PA. Talbots also has introduced new print and television advertising for its spring marketing efforts and will continue various direct mail initiatives to drive traffic. Talbots mailed 50 million catalogs in 2002.
Talbots operates 895 stores, as well as its catalog operation and e-commerce site.