Talbots gets $211 million buy out offer

Talbots, which recorded a deep loss in the last fiscal quarter, received a sweetened takeover bid from private equity firm Sycamore (Emile Wamsteker / Bloomberg / May 7, 2012)

Struggling women’s clothing retailer TheTalbots Inc.is considering an improved takeover offer worth nearly $211 million from New York private equity firm Sycamore Partners.

Sycamore is now proposing a $3.05-per-share deal for the Hingham, Mass., company, up from the $3-per-share bid that Talbots rejected in December as “inadequate.”

The new proposal is 9.7% above the retailer’s $2.78 close on Friday. Since spiking to $10.40 a share in December, when it announced an effort to ditch stores and boost profit, Talbots’ stock has remained relatively stable.

The retailer’s board of directors said it would evaluate Sycamore’s pitch, which terminates May 15, along with other strategic alternatives.

Last month, Talbots announced a steep $111.9 million loss, or $1.62 per share for the fiscal year ended Jan. 28. The previous year, the company earned $10.8 million, or 16 cents a share.

Revenue slid 6% to $1.1 billion from $1.2 billion the year before.

The company, which closed its men’s and children’s businesses in 2008 to focus on older women, sells classic styles in the same vein as competitors such as Ann Taylor owner Ann Inc. and Limited Brands.

Same-store sales at locations open more than a year plunged 4.9% to $942.9 million; direct marketing revenue from Internet, catalog and red line sales was down 10.5% to $198.4 million.

Talbots said in December that it plans to close 110 of its stores by the end of the 2013 fiscal year. It shut down 82 locations – 47 of them in the fourth quarter – during the last fiscal year.

The chain is also in the midst of “an aggressive promotional and markdown strategy in a challenging retail environment,” said Chief Executive Trudy F. Sullivan in a statement. Sullivan said in December that she plans to retire as soon as the company can find a successor.

As of February, Talbots had 517 stores in 46 states and Canada.

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