Will Talbot’s be taken private?

August 1, 2011, 6:38 PM UTC

Struggling women’s clothing retailer gets a suitor.

Sycamore Partners, a new private equity firm focused on the consumer and retailer sectors, is in the process of trying to buy women’s fashion retailer Talbot’s (TLB), Fortune has learned. The opening salvo came earlier today, when Sycamore disclosed in a regulatory filing that it already has acquired a 9.9% stake in the company for $21.62 million.

Talbot’s currently has a market cap of around $265 million, and a buyout would be expected to be worth around $300 million. Its share price has fallen more than 55% so far this year, closing Friday at just $3.46 per share.

The filing does not explicitly say that Sycamore is seeking a majority stake, but does say that it may purchase additional shares. “This is a private equity firm, not a hedge fund,” says a source familiar with the transaction. “I think that by looking at both its website and the 13D, you can draw your own conclusions.”

New York-based Sycamore was founded earlier this year by Stefan Kaluzny, a former managing director with Golden Gate Capital who had worked on such retail deals as Express and Zales. A recent Buyouts Magazine report (sub only) suggests that it already has raised more than $300 million for a debut fund that is targeting upwards of $1 billion.

“Given Stefan’s past work on Zales and other things, he’s clearly not reluctant to get involved with retailers who need some help,” our source added.

  Sycamore declined to comment. It was advised on the Talbot's share purchase by BoA Merrill Lynch.