Talbots, the upmarket US womenswear retailer which has opened six stores in the UK since its launch here in 1994, has poached Jacques Vert managing director Brian Heilborn to rejuvenate its stalled UK expansion.
The Boston, Massachusetts-based company, which originally planned to open up to 30 stores in the UK, has recruited Heilborn, following his success in turning round the Jacques Vert brand, where he led its retail operations.
He replaces Margaret McCabe, former general manager of UK operations, who returns to the US to become Talbots managing director of customer service.
Talbots closed its Sheffield store in 1997, and has scaled down operations at the Manchester outlet, where it is using a skeleton staff.
However, the chain’s five London outlets are believed to be exceeding expectations, with like-for-like sales up 3.7 per cent.
The company admits the lack of recognition for the chain has meant “doing some learning” in the UK clothing market.
A spokeswoman for the company, which has 647 stores in the US and Canada, says: “In the US, Talbots has a very distinct and unique brand, and is very well known. Over here, we are learning each step of the way.”
She also cites the lack of data on customers, which the company obtains in the US through its catalogue operation.
Heilborn, who leaves Jacques Vert following its first return to profitability last month, will join the company on October 4.