HINGHAM, Mass. — Talbots is searching for a new chief creative officer, as the company struggles to find a product assortment that will translate into sales growth. The company's current chief creative officer, Michael Smaldone has left the company, effective immediately.
Trudy Sullivan, Talbots president and CEO, commented, “While we have made progress in executing our brand vision and product design, customer acceptance needs to improve. Therefore, I have determined it is necessary for us to bring in new creative leadership. The creative process is a team effort, and we are confident in the ability of our strong bench of experienced and talented designers and merchants to continue to move forward during this transition period. We believe the action we have taken will enable us to strengthen the execution of our brand and merchandise initiatives going forward.”
Sullivan will assume the chief creative responsibilities while the search is completed, the company reported. During the transition, Talbots SVP design will report directly to Sullivan.
The news of Talbots search for a new chief creative officer came shortly after the company reported that second quarter loss from continuing operations was $37.4 million, or 54 cents per share, compared with last year’s income from continuing operations of $0.5 million or 1 cent per share. Net sales decreased 9.9% to $271.1 million, compared with $300.7 million in the same period last year. Consolidated comparable sales decreased 10.4%, which includes Internet, catalog and red-line sales. Consolidated comparable sales exclude stores scheduled to close under the company’s store rationalization plan.
Talbots closed nine stores during the second quarter and has closed 15 in the first six months of the fiscal year as part of its accelerated store rationalization plan. The company expects to close approximately 110 stores in total, including 15 to 20 consolidations, through fiscal 2013. Approximately 83 stores are expected to close in fiscal 2011, approximately 25 stores are planned for closure in fiscal 2012 and approximately two stores are planned to close in fiscal 2013.
At the end of the second quarter 2011, the company operated 566 Talbots stores in 46 states and Canada.
Sullivan commented, “As expected, our second quarter results reflect high levels of promotional and markdown activity. While we remain confident in our long-term strategic direction, in the near-term we are focused on delivering a more compelling, balanced merchandise assortment and driving improved top-line sales.”