J.Jill Reports Q4 Profit Gain, Beats Expectations

Showing operational discipline, specialty retailer J.Jill posted a fourth-quarter profit gain despite a single-digit comp sales decline.

J.Jill’s net income, for the quarter ended Feb. 3, was $4.8 million, or 33 cents per diluted share, compared to $1 million, or 7 cents a share, in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022. Adjusted fourth-quarter EBITDA (earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization) was $17.6 million compared to $15 million in the year-ago quarter.

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Excluding the impact of non-recurring items, adjustments for costs to exit retail stores, and impairment charges, adjusted net income per diluted share was 23 cents last quarter, compared to 11 cents in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022.

Total fourth-quarter sales rose 1.2 percent to $149.4 million from $147.7 million in the year-ago period. The fourth quarter contained 14 weeks, while the year-ago period had 13 weeks. Comparable sales, which includes comparable store and direct-to-consumer sales on a 13-week basis, decreased 3.6 percent last quarter.

By beating both sales and earnings expectations, investors pushed J.Jill’s stock price up 6.1 percent, or $1.51, to $ 26.24 by midday Wednesday.

“We are pleased with our strong end to 2023 which delivered fourth-quarter and full-year results above our expectations,” Claire Spofford, president and chief executive officer of J.Jill Inc., said in a statement Wednesday. “This performance is once again a testament to the execution of our disciplined operating model which has continued to support the healthy margin profile and strong cash generation of the business. Throughout 2023, we made great progress in strengthening our financial and operational foundation while planting the seeds for future growth. We successfully refinanced our debt, enhanced our omnichannel capabilities, delivered our first net new store opening year in over three years, and continued to identify and test new concepts within our assortment to drive growth.

“As we look ahead, we continue to take a cautious outlook with respect to the macro environment and are planning our business accordingly,” Spofford added. “We will continue to execute our disciplined operating model while investing in both capital and operating expenses that we believe will support the initiatives in place to drive profitable sales growth.”

From J.Jill's spring collection
From J.Jill’s spring collection.

For 2024, the company expects net sales to be flat to up low-single digits, and adjusted EBITDA to be down midsingle digits compared to the 53-week fiscal 2023. This guidance reflects the negative impact from the loss of the 53rd week in fiscal 2023 of $7.9 million in net sales and $2.2 million in adjusted EBITDA.

For the first quarter of fiscal 2024, J.Jill expects net sales to be up in the low-to-midsingle-digits compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2023, and adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of $29 million to $33 million.

For all of 2023, net income was $36.2 million compared to $42.2 million for the year ended Jan. 28, 2023. Adjusted EBITDA was $112.2 million compared to $109.4 million for the prior year.

Total net sales were down 1.7 percent to $604.7 million compared to $615.3 million for the prior year. Comparable sales decreased by 1.4 percent.

The company opened two stores and closed one in fiscal 2023, ending the year with 244 stores.

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