FINANCE

J.Jill Q3 tops Street

BY Marianne Wilson

Women’s apparel retailer J.Jill managed to beat analysts’ estimates in its third quarter even as its income declined.

Total net sales increased 1.6% to $162.0 million in the quarter ended October 28, from $159.4 million in the year-ago period. Analysts had expected revenue of $156.9 million.

Total same-store sales decreased by 0.6%. Direct-to-consumer net sales represented 39.5% of total net sales, compared to 40.4% last year.

The company reported net income of $6 million, down from $8 million last year. Adjusted earnings were $0.13 per share. Analysts had expected earnings of $0.09 per share.

“While we are disappointed with our overall performance for the third quarter, we are pleased to have ended the period with positive trends in October driven largely by our retail store performance,” said Paula Bennett, president and CEO, J.Jill, which operates 270 stores. “Thus far in the fourth quarter, we have returned to total comparable sales growth, with our current product offering better aligned to what our customer expects from J.Jill.”

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Apparel brand returns—in a more ‘limited’ fashion

BY Marianne Wilson

The Limited is back. But not as a physical retailer, at least not yet.

The company declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January after closing its stores and shutting down its website. In February, Sycamore Partners purchased the chain’s intellectual property, including its trademarks and web site address.

On Tuesday, department store retailer Belk announced it was becoming the exclusive distributor for The Limited brand, with the line debuting in 150 Belk stores. The Limited will be managed as an exclusive, private brand, similar to other Belk brands such as Crown & Ivy, Kaari Blue, and New Directions. In 2018, Belk will launch The Limited in an additional 74 stores.

“The Limited provides customers with tailored, feminine looks to seamlessly carry the modern woman from work to her social life,” said Nadine Rauer, Belk executive VP and general merchandise manager. “We’re committed to not only delivering the products that The Limited is known for, but also expanding the assortment to take this iconic brand to the next level.”

The Limited products are now available in plus size – a first for the brand – and the relaunch will also include designs in petite, tall, and denim. The Belk partnership follows the October relaunch of the Limited’s e-commerce site.

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Disappointing quarter for women’s apparel retailer

BY Marianne Wilson

Fashion missteps tripped up the parent company of such brands as Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant and Dressbarn in its first quarter.

Ascena Retail Group reported net income of $6.6 million, or 3 cents a share, down from $$14 million in the year-ago period. After adjustments for restructuring costs and other effects, Ascena claimed earnings of 11 cents a share, down from 18 cents a share in the year-ago period.

Net sales totaled $1.59 billion. Total same-store sales fell 5%, which the company attributed primarily to a a mid-single digit decline in average selling price. The three hurricanes, which impacted the southern United States and Puerto, negatively impacted sales by approximately $11 million. Analysts on average expected adjusted earnings of 11 cents a share on net sales of $1.59 billion, according to FactSet.

“Our first quarter adjusted earnings per share of 11 cents was in the middle of our guidance range, but represented a disappointing quarter,” CEO David Jaffe said. We were unable to capitalize on the improving macro traffic environment due to fashion missteps that we cannot afford in today’s environment. We continue to to deliver double-digit transaction growth in our direct channel, but must improve our overall level of merchandising execution.”

Ascena operates some 4,800 stores throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico under a variety of banners, including Ann Taylor, Loft, maurices, Dressbarn, Catherines, and Justice.

 

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