August 7, 2012, 4:20 PM

Talbots has a new owner and management

As a private company, Talbots will focus on the classics.

Lead Photo

Troubled women’s specialty apparel retailer The Talbots Inc. is officially under new ownership, and the investment bankers that acquired the company wasted little time in naming new management.

Talbots, No. 127 in the 2012 Internet Retailer Top 500 has been acquired by Sycamore Partners in a deal valued at $391 million. In May, Sycamore Partners reached a definitive agreement to acquire Talbots, including absorbing the retailer’s debt of about $172 million.

Talbots will maintain its headquarters in suburban Boston, but Sycamore Partners, which also holds stakes in other apparel retailers such as Mast Global Fashion, wasted little time in putting in place a new team of top managers.

Michael Archbold, formerly the president and chief operating officer of VSI Inc., which operates The Vitamin Shoppe, is the new CEO, while Lizanne Kindler, previously the executive vice president of product development of Kohl’s Corp., will serve as president. Michele Mandell, a former senior vice president with Talbots, will serve as chief operating officer. Sycamore didn’t say if it planned to retain any of Talbots’ management prior to the acquisition, including CEO Trudy Sullivan, chief financial officer Michael Scarpa and executive vice presidents Benedetta Casamento, Deirdre FitzGerald, Richard  O’Connell, Jr., Gregory Poole and Lori Wagner., Sullivan announced her retirement in December upon completion of a deal.

With a new management team, Talbots will focus on an older strategy: bringing back its classic styling aimed at mature women. “Talbots is a classic, American fashion retail brand with a strong foundation and an iconic reputation in women's retail," Archbold says. "By restoring the company's focus on Talbots' classic styling, we will be able to reconnect with the Company's historical customer base. “

For the first quarter ended April 28 Talbots reported:

  • The web accounted for 72.1% of direct market sales of $57.0 million and 75.5% of direct market sales of $60.5 million in the first quarter of 2011. Based on those metrics Q1 web sales decreased year over year 10.1% to about $41.1 from about $45.7 million.
  • Total sales declined 8.4% to $275.9 million from $301.3 million in the first quarter of 2011.
  • Direct sales declined year over year 5.8% to $57.0 million from $60.5 million.
  • Comparable-store sales fell 3.8%
  • Net income increased 48.8% to $1.1 million from $739,000.
  • The web accounted for 15.2% of total sales compared with 16.3% in Q1 2011
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