Fur flies from Talbots after complaints

From the Boston Herald
By Donna Goodison
September 9, 2010

Talbots Inc. has pulled fur items from its store shelves and “e-tail” site after complaints from Humane Society of the United States members about a switch in its fur-free policy. 

Talbots sells upscale women's clothing and accessories


The classic women’s retailer now says it’s again committed to being fur free, but the Hingham-based company failed to offer an explanation as to why it decided to sell $89 rabbit-fur collars as part of its fall collection. 

“We have heard from our customers, some of whom expressed concern about this product,” Talbots said in a statement. “We take these concerns very seriously and have decided to pull the remaining products from our selling floor. Talbots remains committed to upholding its anti-fur pledge.” 

Talbots has been on the Humane Society’s shopping guide of 300-plus fur-free retailers, brands and designers since 1999, said Andrew Page, senior director of the animal-welfare organization. 

Page called Talbots’ decision to sell the fur collars a planned change in policy. Several Humane Society members who complained to the company were read “scripted language” by customer service representatives, who said Talbots had changed its policy and would be selling real animal fur, he said. 

“With so many Americans opposed to buying or wearing animal fur, the decision to sell fur can cause many loyal customers to feel betrayed,” Page said. “We are thrilled with Talbots’ decision to remain fur-free. Clearly this was simply a misstep.” 

Talbots, which operates 580 stores, has been revamping and updating its fashion image under CEO Trudy Sullivan, who’s been tackling a company turnaround. 

Talbots said yesterday it rebounded to a quarterly profit even as sales dropped, but its results fell below analyst estimates. 

The company reported sales of $300.7 million for the fiscal second quarter, a 1.3 percent decrease. It posted net income of $941,000, compared with a $24.5 million loss last year.

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