Private equity firm TowerBrook close to a deal for women’s retailer J. Jill, say sources-Reuters

(Reuters) – Private equity firm TowerBrook Capital Partners is in advanced talks to acquire women’s retailer J. Jill, according to two people familiar with the matter.

A deal is likely to be valued at more than $400 million and could be announced as early as next week, the people said, cautioning that negotiations have not yet been finalized. The people asked not to be named because the matter is private.

San Francisco-based private equity firm Golden Gate Capital acquired J. Jill for around $75 million in 2009 from women’s retailer Talbots, which had bought it three years earlier for more than $500 million. Golden Gate later sold a majority stake in the business to Bahrain-based Arcapita Bank.

J. Jill and Arcapita Bank. TowerBrook and Golden Gate declined to comment.

Based in Quincy, Massachusetts, J. Jill operates more than 225 stores across the United States and sells apparel, accessories and footwear catering to women over 45 years old.

The company was founded in 1959 by Karl and Marianne Lipsky who opened a store in the Berkshires and named it Jennifer House after their first daughter. They later launched a catalog named after both their daughters, Jennifer and Jill.

New York-based TowerBrook owns premium denim company True Religion Apparel Inc and previously invested in high end shoe company Jimmy Choo PLC (CHOO.L).

Retailers who compete with J. Jill have come under pressure within the last year amid reduced consumer spending. Coldwater Creek Inc CWTR.BE last year filed for bankruptcy protection, while Ann Taylor parent Ann Inc (ANN.N) is exploring alternatives for the company including a potential sale.