The Talbots, Inc (NYSE: TLB), the specialty retailer and catalog company, today announced that total company sales for fiscal July, the four weeks ended July 29, 2000, increased 3 per cent to $90m from $87.3m for the four weeks ended July 31, 1999. Comparable store sales decreased 0.9 per cent for the month, which was better than expected.

Sales for the second fiscal quarter, the thirteen weeks ended July 29, 2000, increased 17 per cent to $356.6m, from $305m for the thirteen weeks ended July 31, 1999. Retail sales were up 18 per cent to $311.5m from $264.1m last year. Comparable store sales for the quarter rose 14.6 per cent over the prior year. Catalog sales increased 10 per cent to $45.1m from $40.9m in the same period last year.

Year-to-date sales for the twenty-six weeks ended July 29, 2000 increased 19 per cent to $714.4m from $598m reported for the twenty-six weeks ended July 31, 1999. Retail sales were up 20 per cent to $606.9m from $507.6m last year. Comparable store sales increased 15.9 per cent for the twenty-six week period. Catalog sales increased 19 per cent to $107.5m, up from $90.4m last year.

Arnold B. Zetcher, chairman, president and CEO, said:, "As previously announced, due to our exceptionally strong regular-price sales trends throughout the spring season, we had less markdown inventory remaining for our semi-annual sale, which began in late June. This resulted in our July comparable store sales coming in just below flat, a better than expected performance.

"I am delighted to announce that we have again raised our earnings outlook for the second quarter to a range of $0.44 to $0.46 per diluted share. This represents outstanding earnings growth of more than 250 per cent above last year's $0.12 per diluted share, and is substantially above the current investment community's consensus estimate of $0.33 per diluted share," Mr. Zetcher continued.

Talbots is a leading national specialty retailer and cataloger of women's classic apparel, shoes and accessories. The company operates 682 stores - 405 Talbots Misses stores, including 19 Talbots Misses stores in Canada and six Talbots Misses stores in the United Kingdom; 160 Talbots Petites stores, including one Talbots Petites store in Canada; 35 Talbots Accessories & Shoes stores; 54 Talbots Kids stores; eight Talbots Woman stores; and 20 Talbots Outlet stores. Its catalog operation circulated approximately 57 million catalogs worldwide in fiscal 1999. Talbots online shopping site is located at www.talbots.com.