June 8, 2009, 12:00 AM

Talbots sells J. Jill assets to Golden Gate Capital

After paying $517 million three years ago for the brand, Talbots is selling the assets of J. Jill to Golden Gate Capital. The San Francisco private equity firm also owns and operates Orchard Brands Corp. and Crosstown Traders.


After shopping the brand around for seven months, The Talbots Inc. has found a buyer for J. Jill, a multichannel retailer of women’s apparel and shoes that sells online at JJill.com.

Talbots, No. 106 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, has sold the assets of J. Jill to Golden Gate Capital, a San Francisco private equity firm that already owns a number of other direct marketing and web retailing brands. The price was $75 million. The assets will be sold to Jill Acquisition LLC, a Golden Gate Capital affiliate.

Under the terms of the deal, Golden Gate Capital, which also owns and operates Orchard Brands Corp. and Crosstown Traders, will acquire J. Jill’s Tilton, NH, distribution facility, a sublease of a portion of a Quincy, MA, office facility, and substantially all of the brand’s intellectual property and inventories. Golden Gate Capital will also take over the operation of approximately 204 J. Jill stores while Talbot’s will close down about 75 remaining locations. The deal is expected to close within 60 days.

J. Jill president Paula Bennett will stay on in her current capacity. “Golden Gate Capital has a reputation for developing great multichannel businesses and we look forward to working with them to maximize the potential of the J. Jill brand as an independent company,” says Bennett.

Talbots, which acquired J. Jill in a deal valued at $517 million in February 2006, will concentrate on growing its core business and its Internet channel, which generated sales of $142.7 million in 2008. “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,” says Talbots CEO Trudy F. Sullivan.

The J. Jill deal is the latest in a long string of retail and direct market acquisitions for Golden Gate Capital, which has in five years completed approximately 20 multichannel retail acquisitions totaling more than of $3.5 billion in annual revenue, the company says.


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