Direct Sales Fall at J. Jill

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Direct sales reported yesterday by The J. Jill Group Inc., Quincy, MA, revealed a downward slide for the three- and 12-month periods ended Dec. 27.

The category generated $200.22 million in the recently concluded 12-month time frame, down from $220.6 million in the comparable period ended Dec. 28, 2002. The e-commerce segment improved from $66.11 million to $69.04 million, but catalog dropped to $131.18 million from $154.49 million.

Direct's total in the three months ended Dec. 27 amounted to $52.89 million, falling from $63 million a year ago. Catalog slumped to $33.64 million from $42.46 million, as e-commerce was off slightly, dropping to $19.25 million from $20.54 million.

Operating income for the quarter totaled $5.58 million compared with $10.8 million in the prior year. Operating income for the year was $12.93 million compared with $32.76 million in the prior year.

The company posted net income of $3.2 million for the fourth quarter compared with $6.2 million in the fourth quarter of the prior year. Net income for the 12 months was $7.2 million versus $18.9 million in the previous year.

Retail numbers in the net sales summary, however, painted a different picture. The quarterly comparison improved from $45.24 million to $62.19 million while the yearly total improved from $128.09 million to $177.51 million.

Also, quarterly net sales were up to $114.85 million from $107.85 million. The annual total improved from $347.57 million to $376.9 million.

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