J.Jill’s IPO doesn’t excite investors

Boston Globe – J.Jill Inc.’s initial public offering didn’t wow investors when the fashion retailer returned to the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday after 11 years as a private company.

On their first day of trading, shares of the Quincy-based women’s retailer never reached the $13 a share IPO price, closing at $12.75, down 1.9 percent. Prior to the offering J.Jill had estimated that its shares would fetch $14 to $16 apiece.

The clothing chain, which specializes in upscale apparel for women 40 and over, is the first clothing retailer to go public since 2015, according to Bloomberg. But it comes at a time when some mall-based retailers like Sears and J.C. Penney are shuttering locations as the growth of e-commerce threatens to further upend the industry.

It’s the second IPO for J.Jill, which first went public under a different name in the 1990s and remained publicly traded until 2006, when Hingham-based rival Talbots Inc. beat out Liz Claiborne in a bidding war for it. The deal turned out to be a disaster as the retail market sharply declined during the financial crisis. Within three years, Talbots unloaded J.Jill to private-equity firm Golden Gate Capital for $75 million.

Ken Morris, a principal at Boston Retail Partners, a retail management consulting firm, said that while J.Jill’s stock may not have performed as well as some may have liked, the company has streamlined its operation and has adopted efficiencies that have made it consistently profitable.

“I think they’ll be a winner,” Morris said. “Stores get a bad rap, but 90 percent of all sales still come through a store.”

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Vice President of Marketing
David has more than 15 years of experience marketing to retail and hospitality companies. His broad marketing experience is focused on designing and executing successful strategic marketing plans, demand generation, public relations and branding through customer-centric messaging. He has significant experience marketing retail technology and services with an emphasis on POS systems.