J. Crew Seeking Buyer for Clifford & Wills

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J. Crew Group Inc. is exploring the sale of its Clifford & Wills mail-order and factory-outlet business.


"Our decision to divest of Clifford & Wills reflects our strategy to focus on building the J. Crew brand," said Howard Socol, chief executive officer of J. Crew, New York. "While Clifford & Wills is a top-performing mail-order business, we believe it will be able to better realize its full potential under the ownership of a buyer whose first priority is to grow the business."


Revenues for Clifford & Wills were not released, but the company said the catalog's revenues rank in the top 20 ready-to-wear catalogs, and earnings grew 50 percent in 1997.


The company has made some management changes. Trudy Sullivan, president of Clifford & Wills, has been named president of J. Crew Mail Order, the catalog division of J. Crew Operating Corp. Walter Killough, general manager of J. Crew Mail Order, will work in partnership with Sullivan and report to her. Sullivan will report to Socol.


David Dyer, who has served as a consultant to J. Crew mail order since November will become president of Clifford & Wills.


"We are fortunate to have David Dyer, with his wealth of experience, to continue to evolve the Clifford & Wills business and help us in the divestiture process," Socol said.


Dyer was previously chief operating officer of Home Shopping Network and vice chairman of Lands' End.


J. Crew Group, the holding company for J. Crew Operating Corp., had sales of $830 million in 1997. In addition to J. Crew and Clifford & Wills, the company also owns Popular Club Plan. No announcement has been made about that business.
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