Golden Gate to acquire J. Jill from Talbots

The Talbots Inc. has signed a definitive agreement to sell substantially of the J. Jill brand assets to an affiliate of private equity investment firm Golden Gate Capital for approximately $75 million.

Jill Acquisition LLC, the Golden Gate affiliate, will assume the leases for 204 of the 279 J. Jill brand stores, which it will continue to operate. Talbots will retain the remaining 75 store leases and is expected to close these stores within the next 60 days.

As part of the transaction, Golden Gate will assume control over J. Jill’s Tilton, NH, distribution facility, sublease a portion of a Quincy, MA office facility and acquire substantially all of the brand’s intellectual property and inventories.

Talbots announced in November that it would pursue a sale of the J. Jill brand in order to focus on its core Talbot’s business, a move that came just two years after it acquired the J. Jill business for $517 million.

Since that time, the multichannel retailer – much like many other merchants – has struggled in the face of the current economic turmoil. In February, Talbots eliminated 370 corporate jobs and, in April, it reported a net loss totaling $366.5 million, or $6.85 per share, for the fourth quarter ended January 31. This compares with a net loss totaling $171.4 million, or $3.22 per share, in the previous fourth quarter period.

Speaking about the sale of J. Jill in statement, Talbots president end CEO Trudy F. Sullivan said, “This is a significant strategic step forward for Talbots as it enables us to focus our time, resources and attention exclusively on rejuvenating our core Talbots brand and return to profitable growth.”

J. Jill will continue to be led by brand president Paula Bennett. All J. Jill employees located at the Quincy, MA and Tilton, NH facilities and at the transferred store locations will remain employed by the buyer. J. Jill will continue to operate under the same brand name, will remain headquartered in Quincy, MA, and will continue to operate its distribution center in Tilton, NH.

Over the past five years, Golden Gate Capital has completed approximately 20 multichannel retail acquisitions, including Express and various acquisitions through Orchard Brands, including Appleseed’s, Blair, Draper & Damon’s, Gold Violin, Hatband, Norm Thompson, Shale, Tog Shop and Winter Silks.

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