Battered retailer The Talbots (NYSE: TLB) is supposed to be taken private by Sycamore Partners for just over $2.75 a share, or $190 million. The offer has been delayed for some reason. Sycamore already has lowered its offer once from $3.05 a share it extended to the company in December. Among all the badly damaged retailers hurt by the recession, compounded by its failure to appeal to consumers with distinctive products, Talbots has to be near the top of the list. While its shares traded for almost $26 five years ago, they now change hands for $2.50. It is a wonder that Sycamore wants to buy the retailer. Even if the deal closes, Sycamore may find there is no solution to making the company viable again. When it last announced earnings, Talbots management said it planned to close 110 stores. The company also said it would try to find a new CEO. Talbots made only $1 million last quarter on $275 million in revenue. At the same time it announced earnings, it admitted that it could be in default under its debt facilities if its financial condition deteriorated further. Talbots has been flanked by a number of department stores that carry women’s discount ware and a number of niche chains, including Ann Taylor (NYSE: ANN), Chico’s FAS (NYSE: CHS) and Limited Brands (NYSE: LTD). The company’s earnings demonstrate clearly the extent to which customers have abandoned Talbots. Its revenue was $2.3 billion in fiscal 2008, a figure on which it lost money. Annual sales are barely half that now. With the exception of a tiny profit last year, the retailer has lost money every year in the past five.
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