* Talbots bought J.Jill in 2006 for $517 mln
* Talbots shares slightly lower
PHILADELPHIA, June 8 (Reuters) - Women’s apparel retailer Talbots Inc TLB.N agreed on Monday to sell its J. Jill division to Golden Gate Capital for $75 million, just three years after buying it for $517 million.
Talbots had said in November it would try to sell J. Jill, which has been a weak spot for the company since its acquisition in 2006, and focus on its namesake Talbots brand.
The divestiture of the J. Jill brand is part of Talbots’ efforts to focus exclusively on executing the turnaround of its core business and its newly launched upscale outlet, the company said.
“This is a significant strategic step forward for Talbots as it enables us to focus our time, resources and attention exclusively on rejuvenating our core Talbots brand and return to profitable growth,” Chief Executive Trudy Sullivan said.
Talbots, majority-owned by Japan’s Aeon Co, said J. Jill will continue to operate under the same brand name, will remain headquartered in Quincy, Massachusetts, and will continue to operate its distribution center in Tilton, New Hampshire.
Talbots will close 75 J. Jill stores within 60 days. The remaining 204 stores will be transferred to Golden Gate Capital.
Over the last five years, Golden Gate Capital has completed about 20 multi-channel retail acquisitions totaling more than $3.5 billion in annual revenues.
Talbots shares were down 3 cents to $4.98 in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Jessica Hall; editing by John Wallace) (For more M&A news and our DealZone blog, go to here)