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Timberland to close specialty shops


NEW YORK, (Reuters) Bootmaker Timberland said it would close most of its specialty retail shops after the company said they expect their third-quarter earnings to be extremely low.

Most of the store closings will occur early next year, Timberland said, adding that it hopes to raise annual operating profits by $6 million, while lowering annual sales by about $40 million. The company said the closings are part of a transition to smaller, footwear-focused stores in the United States.

"We have decided to begin the closure of most of our specialty retail stores in the United States, as well as stores in Asia and Europe," ceo Jeffrey Swartz said in a statement.

Sales of Timberland's trademark work boots, a long-time fashion staple of urban consumers, have been declining recently with footwear trends moving toward sneakers.

The Stratham, N.H.-based company also said it expects third-quarter operating margins to dip 6 percentage points, a drop Timberland partly blamed on a voluntary recall of its Direct Attach Steel Toe Series footwear.

Timberland's shares have fallen nearly 40% from their 52-week high of $33.45 on November 14. The stock closed Tuesday at $20.22 a share.

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