Jones Group Hires Citi To Explore Sale

Target: Jones Group Inc

Market Capitalization: $1.2 billion

Financial Adviser: Citigroup Inc

Jones Group Inc, the fashion company that owns retail chains Nine West and Jones New York, has hired Citigroup Inc to explore a potential sale of the company, three sources familiar with the matter told sister news service Reuters.

Jones Group, which has a market capitalization of $1.2 billion, is in the early stages of reaching out to private equity and industry players to gauge interest in buying the company as a whole or in pieces, the sources said on Monday.

“Like most companies, Jones Group has ongoing relationships with a wide range of advisers,” a spokeswoman for the company said in a statement. “As a matter of practice, the company does not share the specifics of these relationships.”

Citigroup declined to comment. The sources declined to be named because the matter is not public.

In May, activist hedge fund firm Barington Capital Group’s James Mitarotonda joined the board of Jones. Barington had urged Jones to focus on its shoe brands and to pare down its noncore fashion brands.

In April, Jones said it would close about 170 under-performing U.S. stores by mid-2014 and cut its workforce by about 8 percent as it tries to revive profit. Jones has been hurt by aggressive competition and has struggled over the last few years. The company unsuccessfully explored a sale in 2006 with Goldman Sachs, two of the sources said.

DealReporter reported previously that the company is in the early stages of exploring a possible sale.

Olivia Oran and Soyoung Kim are correspondents for Reuters in New York.