NEW YORK — J. Jill Group had a tough first quarter, attributed to the usual war-weather-economy-Easter reasons, as earnings plummeted 71.5 percent.
The Quincy, Mass-based company, which operates 93 stores, said for the three months ended March 29, income fell to $768,000, or 4 cents a diluted share, compared with income of $2.7 million, or 14 cents, recorded in the year-ago quarter. Sales for the quarter advanced 12.3 percent to $82.4 million over sales of $73.4 million. By division, direct sales were on par with last year at $51.1 million, and retail sales increased 40.7 percent to $31.5 million, due to its store rollout.
Gross margins decreased 370 basis points to 31 percent of sales due to higher markdown charges and the deleveraging of fixed costs. Selling, general and administrative expenses increased 100 basis points to 29.2 percent of sales from 28.8 percent because of lower sales productivity and a shift of the mix of the business to retail, which has higher selling costs.
"The first quarter was a challenging quarter for J. Jill," Gordon Cooke, president and chief executive, said in an afternoon conference call. "Like most other retailers, our business was impacted by a number of external factors such as the war in Iraq, the economy, weather and this year’s timing of the Easter holiday."
Cooke also noted the combination of these events made it difficult to discern any business trends and that the firm would not provide guidance for the current quarter. For example, he said its spring direct business generated strong results in January and March and lackluster results in February and April. At the same time, its retail units posted mixed results in January and February and have seen improved performance in March and April.
Although Cooke described the current business climate as difficult, he said the company continues to make progress in its long-term goal of becoming a national lifestyle brand appealing to active, affluent women between 35 and 55 years old.
"With 38 percent of our sales coming from retail, 21 percent from e-commerce and 41 percent from our catalog in the first quarter, we have made tremendous progress toward this goal in just a little over three years," the ceo said. Last year, the company said catalog sales comprised 51 percent of sales, followed by retail, 30 percent, and e-commerce, 19 percent.The ceo identified three areas of investment to transform the catalog company into a full-fledged multichannel retailer, including product development; sourcing and design processes, and the creation of an enterprise-wide customer database.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews