Case study J.Jill

The company

J.Jill, headquartered near Boston, Massachusetts, is an omnichannel retailer that designs, sources and sells women’s apparel, accessories and footwear. The business targets a loyal, affluent customer base, chiefly women aged 45 to 65 with an average household income of c. US$150,000.

Why we invested

  • Differentiated women’s apparel brand, with a long history in direct-to-customer due to its catalogue heritage, well positioned to benefit from shift to online
  • Ability to interpret a wealth of data, allowing optimization of marketing spend
  • Multiple levers for growth via customer, channel and product initiatives
  • Experienced management team with a history of delivering profitable growth
Year of investment

2015

Sales (LTM to October 31, 2018)

$714.7m

Status

Current

Building a better business

At the time of TowerBrook’s investment, 57% of J. Jill’s sales were through retail stores, while 43% of sales were through the company’s website and catalogue. TowerBrook identified the importance of J.Jill’s ability to interpret a wealth of data, allowing optimization of marketing spend and fast identification of new category opportunities.

Under TowerBrook’s ownership, the Board has been revamped and numerous initiatives have been undertaken to drive further growth. Michael Rahamim, former Chair and CEO of Phase Eight, joined the Board as Chair. Four new independent directors have been appointed, and talent added to the management team.

J.Jill has increased its marketing spend and expanded its digital marketing capabilities. The company’s website has been rebuilt and its mobile site experience optimized. J. Jill has also developed a new data analytics platform capable of providing integrated visibility of stock across all channels.

In March 2017 J.Jill completed its IPO on NYSE (NYSE: JILL). TowerBrook remains the controlling shareholder, with 59% of the shares. Linda Heasley, previously CEO of Lane Bryant, was appointed CEO in March 2018.

Since the start of TowerBrook’s investment in 2015 J.Jill has grown its number of annual active customers from 1.4 million to 1.9 million – an increase of more than 35%, demonstrating the expansion of its appeal.

Since its inception in 2002, the J. Jill Compassion Fund has given more than US$14 million in grants and in-kind donations to more than 100 organizations across the U.S. that help women in need achieve independence through programs that offer them education, job training, life skills and safe, affordable housing.