Apparel retailer The Talbots Inc on Wednesday posted a second quarter profit of $19.4 million, up 4.8 per cent on the $18.5 million posted last year.

Total company net sales for the second quarter ended 31 July increased 5 per cent to $409.4 million from $389.6 million last year.

Retail store sales were $354.9 million, a 5 per cent increase from $339.4 million reported in the second quarter last year.

Included in retail sales was an increase of 0.3 per cent in comparable store sales. Catalogue sales increased 9 per cent to $54.5 million versus $50.2 million for the fiscal quarter last year.

For the six-month period, net income was $52.8 million versus $47.9 million last year.

Total company net sales increased 6 per cent to $828.4 million from $784.6 million in the first half last year. Retail store sales were $708.3 million, 6 per cent above the $668.6 million in the same period last year.

Arnold B. Zetcher, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said the company continues to target a 10 per cent growth in earnings per share compared to last year.

He added: "The early response to our fall merchandise assortments continues to be favourable and we believe we are well-positioned for a healthy selling season, especially given our increased inventory levels."