Animal welfare pressure group PETA has bought shares in apparel retailer The Talbots as part of its campaign against the mulesing of sheep in Australia.

The group intends to use its status as a shareholder in the company to stop it from buying wool from Australian farmers involved in mulesing - the cutting away of flesh from the hindquarters of sheep to prevent infestation.

PETA claimed it had tried to "work co-operatively" with Talbots, but had found the retailer unresponsive.

"There's nothing fashionable about cutting the skin and flesh from lambs' backsides, whether it's done with shears or with clips," said PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman.

"We'll rally support from other shareholders to change Talbots' policy because when a company is associated with cruelty to animals, it can also hurt the bottom line."

A number of international retailers have pledged not to use wool from mulesed sheep, including Next, Liz Claiborne, Abercrombie & Fitch, Timberland and H&M.

Trade group Australian Wool Innovation had agreed to phase out mulesing by 2010, but announced in July that it was abandoning that commitment.

The Talbots did not respond to just-style requests for comment.