Talbots to Close 78 Stores, Shares Fall

Apparel retailer Talbots said Friday it will exit its Talbots Kids and Mens lines and warned of weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter sales, sending shares down more than 6 percent in pre-market trading.

The company, which is trying to focus instead on its core women's clothing business, said it will close 66 Talbots Kids and 12 Talbots Mens stores, cutting about 800 full- and part-time jobs, or about 5 percent of its work force.

Talbots also said that sales at its Talbots and J. Jill chains are trending below expectations so far in the fourth quarter, which contains the key holiday shopping period.

But the company stopped short of cutting its fourth-quarter sales forecast, noting that the important month of January -- when people redeem gift cards received for the holidays -- still has several weeks left.

Talbots said it will record a pretax charge of $34 million to $42 million, or 40 cents to 49 cents a share, in fiscal 2008 related to exiting the Kids and Mens lines.

Talbots shares fell to $10 in premarket trade, from their close at $10.68 on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.