Yes, Talbots (TLB) was heading towards its downward spiral before Trudy Sullivan took the reins in mid-2007, but she now leaves the company in an even more precarious position than when she joined.
Sullivan, who previously held leadership roles at Liz Claiborne (LIZ)and J.Crew, announced her resignation from the women's apparel retailer earlier this month, just one day before the company said it received a buyout offer from private-equity firm Sycamore Capital. Talbots subsequently rejected the $205.2 million bid.
Ultimately, Sullivan was the wrong person for the job.Like the rest of the women's apparel space, Talbots struggled with excess inventory and merchandise misses that didn't resonate with its increasingly frugal core shopper. But for the most part, rivals like Ann (ANN) and Chico's (CHS) have managed to get on a path toward recovery, while Talbots lagged. In its third quarter, Talbots swung to a wider-than-expected loss due to deep discounts and promotions. But despite Talbots reporting a loss in three of the last four years, Sullivan took home $6 million in 2010, double her pay from the year prior. She will also receive a $5 million severance package. Talbots is currently searching for Sullivan's replacement, hiring executive search firm Spencer Stuart to conduct the search. Sullivan will remain at the company until it names her replacement.