Net Income Increases at J. Jill

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Boosted by higher catalog sales and the opening of several stores, women's apparel retailer J. Jill saw net income rise 47 percent to $796,000 for the first quarter, company officials said yesterday.

Results from the first quarter, which ended March 31, showed that earnings per diluted share were 7 cents compared with last year's 5 cents. The earnings increased despite a 10 percent rise in outstanding shares.

The Quincy, MA-based company also posted a net sales increase of 30.3 percent to $63.3 million, compared with $48.6 million from the previous year. J. Jill's direct segment reported a 13 percent increase in net sales, or $52.9 million, for the quarter compared with last year's $46.8 million. E-commerce sales also grew to $12.4 million, or 23 percent of the company's total direct business.

Retail accounted for $10.7 million compared with last year's $1 million. At the beginning of the year, J. Jill opened six new retail shops, bringing the total number of stores to 28. The company plans to open 17 additional stores by the end of the year.

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