Talbots Q4 loss widens on higher charges, promotions

Hingham, Mass. -- Talbots Inc.’s fourth-quarter loss widened to $53.2 million for the period ended Jan. 28, not as bad as analysts expected, compared to a loss  of $2.8 million in the year ago. Its results were pressured by restructuring and executive retirement costs, as well as increased mark-downs and promotions. The chain also forecast first-quarter revenue that missed analysts' expectations. Revenue for the quarter slipped 1% to $289.4 million from $292.6 million, but beat Wall Street's estimate of $267.9 million. Same-store sales were flat.

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

Talbots is currently searching for Sullivan’s replacement and exploring strategic options, including buyout offers.

“We remain focused on enhancing our product and executing our key strategic initiatives, as the board continues its evaluation of a full range of strategic alternatives,” Sullivan said.

In December, the retailer rejected a $205 million buyout bid from its biggest shareholder, private equity firm Sycamore Partners.

For the year, Talbots lost $111.9 million. Annual revenue decreased 6% to $1.14 billion, from $1.21 billion. 

As previously announced, the chain will close 110 locations through fiscal 2013. It closed about 47 locations in the fourth quarter as part of a plan outlined in 2012.