Talbots Inc., which paid $517 million for the J. Jill chain of apparel stores during 2006, has agreed to sell the chain for $75 million to Jill Acquisition LLC, an affiliate of Golden Gate Capital, a San Francisco-based private investment group.
The new owners purchased 204 of the 279 locations and agreed to retain J. Jill’s current management. The remaining 75 stores will be retained by Talbots and are expected to close within the next two months.
J. Jill operates one store in Colorado Springs at the Promenade Shops at Briargate. The store will remain open, according to a statement from Maria David, manager of investor and media relations for Talbots.
Talbots declined to release sales details for individual stores and didn’t say what criteria was used to determine which stores would be part of the deal, but news of the continued operation of J. Jill locally pleased Promenade Shops at Briargate General Manager Jennifer Crowley.
“The management is ecstatic that our J. Jill store is not part of the 75 locations that will be closing,” she said. “J. Jill has been here since opening in August 2003 and has a very loyal customer base. We are glad they’ll remain within The Promenade Shops at Briargate … we are like family here and happy to know the J. Jill’s staff is OK.”
Following two straight months of sales declines, retail sales nationwide rose during May, according to the Commerce Department. The good news for retailers was tempered, however, because most of the increase was attributed to higher gasoline prices.
Not including gasoline stations and auto sales, which rose 0.5 percent, core retail sales climbed 0.1 percent compared to April. Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of all economic activity, so economists and investors look to the statistic as a key economic indicator.
Electronics, furniture, sporting goods and department stores experienced marginal sales declines, but apparel (0.4 percent) and building/garden material store sales (1.3 percent) jumped higher.
The May figures represented an 11.1 percent drop compared to May 2008, but comparing this year’s sales to 2008 yields a deceptive conclusion, according to the National Retail Federation.
NRF Chief Economist Rosalind Wells said that consumers benefitted from federal economic stimulus payments last year, and don’t have that extra cushion of money to work with this year.
Men’s Wearhouse won an auction for Filene’s Basement, paying $67 million for the bankrupt East Coast bargain retailer.
Houston-based Men’s Wearhouse beat competitors for 17 to 20 of Filene’s 25 stores, a Burlington, Mass., headquarters building, a warehouse and the lease to a closed flagship property in Boston.
Men’s Wearhouse operates three stores in Colorado Springs.
Scott Prater covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.