J.Jill Customer Strategy Welcomes Everybody and Delivers Profits

J.Jill store

Largely crediting its “Welcome Everybody” initiative, U.S. women’s fashion retailer J.Jill on Tuesday (March 14) announced its net sales in the fourth quarter gained 1.7% to reach $147.7 million, with comparable sales up by 5.3%, according to a company press release.

The once struggling retailer, which worked desperately to avoid bankruptcy during the height of the pandemic, managed to achieve profitability in fiscal 2022, with a net income of $42.2 million, improving from the net loss of $28.1 million reported in 2021.

The “Welcome Everybody” imitative is reportedly aimed at bringing light to the company’s inclusive size offerings. The initiative enabled the brand to focus on personalization through its product offerings, offering a more inclusive lineup and providing price points to follow. According to PYMNTS’ Consumer Inflation Sentiment study, “The False Appeal of Deal-Chasing Consumers,” 63% of persuadable retail shoppers and 68% of loyal retail shoppers are motivated by factors other than price.

“We are pleased with our strong finish for the year as we delivered better than expected top and bottom line results for the fourth quarter and full year,” J.Jill CEO Claire Spofford said in the earnings announcement. “Throughout fiscal 2022, our teams did an exceptional job in delivering strong operating results while executing against our strategic initiatives including the launch of our Welcome Everybody campaign.”

The company plans to continue to promote the campaign throughout the year through collaboration efforts, new marketing channels and working with influencers in the size inclusivity category.

The women’s retailer is also crediting its mindful approach to inventory management and a customer base that has seemingly been unfazed by the tough macroeconomic environment.

J.Jill ended the quarter with inventory down 9.6% to $50.6 million, which executives said allowed the firm to avoid discounting merchandise — a major tactic many brands and retailers have resorted to.

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J.Jill closed five stores, but opened one during the period, ending the year with a total of 243 stores. Chief Financial and Operating Officer Mark Webb also noted during the earnings call that the company may close more locations as leases come to an end but plans to expand its footprint carefully.

“We believe there is opportunity to grow this channel and are actively pursuing select new store openings, but we are steadfast in the metrics we need to do so,” Webb said. “It is our intent to strike fair deals and in time begin to grow this important channel.”

J.Jill beat its own expectations for the quarter, largely thanks to in-store sales, mainly in January, which was recorded as the strongest month for the period for the company.

Looking ahead, the retailer is looking to continue its focus on building a more mindful inventory and taking a more cautious approach to its brick-and-mortar footprint.

“In 2023, we expect to build on this progress while maintaining the disciplined approach to inventory and expense management that we have demonstrated over the past eight quarters,” Spofford said. “While we are cautious with respect to our outlook for this year given the ongoing macro-related headwinds, we remain focused on positioning J. Jill for long-term profitable growth.”

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