July 8 (Reuters) - Jones Group Inc, the fashion company that owns retail chains Nine West and Jones New York, has hired Citigroup to explore a potential sale of the company, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
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.
Jones Group could not be reached for comment. 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.