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HINGHAM, MA-Women’s apparel chain Talbots Inc. has hired “a leading global business consulting firm” to assist the company with a strategic review of its brand positioning. Talbots operates two chains, its namesake concept, with 1,141 units, and the 257-store J. Jill. Both target women older than 35.

Working with the unnamed firm will help Talbots “keep our brand relevant, fresh and consistent,” says Trudy F. Sullivan, the retailer’s recently appointed president and CEO. “The company is moving forward to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to drive sustainable profitable growth and enhance the performance of our business, and the outcome of this study will be a key element of that plan,” she continues.

During Talbots’ most recent quarter, which ended Aug. 22, the company reported a $13.3-million net loss. Same-store sales declined 4.8% year over year at both chains during the period, falling 4.9% at Talbots and 4.3% at J. Jill. Executives predicted at the time that same-store sales would come in flat during the second half of the year.

Additionally, on Sept. 10, Talbots’ management announced it was reviewing its alliance with advertising firm Arnold Worldwide, which has handled the retailer’s marketing for 10 years. That process was targeted for completion next month.

Talbots acquired J. Jill last year for about $517 million. At that time, the chain operated 200 stores.

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