J.Jill taps retail veteran as its new CEO amid better-than-expected Q4 results

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J.Jill taps retail veteran as its new CEO amid better-than-expected Q4 results

By Marianne Wilson - 03/15/2018
J.Jill has appointed the former CEO of Lane Bryant as its next chief executive.

The women’s apparel retailer said that Paula Bennett is retiring as president and CEO. She will be succeeded by Linda Heasley, who currently serves on the J.Jill board, effective April 16.

Heasley most recently served as CEO of The Honey Baked Ham Company, since February 2017. Previously, she served as CEO and president of Lane Bryant, from 2013 to 2017, and is widely credited with revitalizing the brand. Prior to that, Heasley served as the chairman, president and CEO at Limited Stores from 2007 to 2013. She also previously held senior leadership roles at CVS Health Corporation, Timberland LLC, Bath and Body Works and L Brands.

“I have worked with Linda over the past year while serving together on board, and I am confident that her leadership experience combined with her deep understanding of our industry, our company and our customers will make her extremely well-suited to lead the company,” said Bennett, who has served as CEO of J.Jill for 10 years.

Michael Rahamim, chairman of J.Jill, praised the outgoing Bennett. He said that under her leadership, the chain executed “a profitable turnaround and grew into a premier omnichannel brand with exceptional customer loyalty and a strong operational foundation.”

“This ultimately led to our successful IPO in March of 2017 despite a challenging retail environment,’ he added. “Over the past year Paula has guided the team through its transition to a public company, and the board is grateful for her dedication and commitment to J.Jill.”

In addition to announcing the news about its new CEO, J.Jill on Thursday also reported results for its fourth quarter that topped Street estimates. The retailer posted a profit of $29.3 million, or 67 cents a share, for the quarter ended Feb. 3, compared to $2 million, or 5 cents a share, a year earlier.

Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to 13 cents per share, beating analysts’ forecasts of 8 cents.

Sales rose to a better-than-expected $188.7 million from $166.9 million. Total same-store sales rose 8.9%.

For the year, the company reported profit of $55.4 million, or $1.27 per share. Revenue was reported as $698.1 million.

J.Jill operates more than 270 stores nationwide and an e-commerce platform.

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