J. Jill Retail Sales Up, Direct Sales Down

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The J. Jill Group Inc., Quincy, MA, reported yesterday that net sales for the fiscal fourth quarter ended Dec. 25 totaled $119 million, a 4 percent increase from the previous year. Comparable-store sales rose 2.4 percent in the period.


Annual net sales reached $435 million in fiscal 2004 compared with $377 million for the prior year, the multichannel marketer of women's apparel reported.


In fiscal 2004, J. Jill's retail business grew 35 percent and represented 55 percent of the company's total business, said Gordon C. Cooke, president/CEO of J. Jill.


"Retail's contribution increased by $16.5 million to 9.2 percent of segment net sales from 3.2 percent of segment net sales last year," Cooke said. "In contrast, our direct segment net sales declined by 2 percent in fiscal 2004, with the fall business weakening dramatically when compared to the spring business. We attribute this weakness primarily to the many initiatives we have implemented to improve our results in retail, including the overall store count."


J. Jill plans to open 40 stores in fiscal 2005. Also, the company is "currently reassessing the size of our direct business with an eye toward rightsizing it in order to maintain its profitability," Cooke said.


Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM News.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters
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