Good News from Talbots, Bad News from Aramark

Two very different publicly traded companies have issued very different financial guidance reports.

First, the good news: Apparel cataloger/retailer The Talbots announced that its integration of women’s apparel merchant J. Jill Group, which it acquired in the beginning of the year, was proceeding ahead of schedule. What’s more, Hingham, MA-based Talbots expects synergies from the acquisition to save it more than $30 million next year, up from its original projection of $25 million.

In a release, the company noted that sales of Talbots merchandise is “trending ahead of plan,” though J. Jill sales are below plan. But, said Talbots chairman/president/CEO Arnold Zetcher in a statement, “We have new J. Jill leadership in place to address the merchandising issues that have impacted the brand over the past year, and we anticipate an improvement in the versatility of J. Jill’s apparel in late fall 2006 and more fully in the spring of 2007.”

Now, the not-so-good news: In response to continuing flagging sales in its direct marketing division, Philadelphia-based Aramark has “undertaken a review” of the business. The division includes the Galls catalog of public-safety equipment and the WearGuard workwear brand.

“We are proceeding aggressively to address the challenges in the direct marketing segment of our uniforms business,” Aramark chairman/CEO Joseph Neubauer said in a statement. “While we expect to experience continued operating challenges in this business in the fourth quarter, we are taking actions over the next several months which we believe will have a positive impact as we move into fiscal 2007.”

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