J.Jill CEO Paula Bennett leaves at short notice

  • Push-out Score suggests push-out forces
  • After almost nine years in the position
  • Accolades, praise and thanks for Bennett
  • Linda Heasley taking over
  • Bennett spoke at length and said 118 words

(exechange) — Quincy, Massachusetts, March 15, 2018 — Paula Bennett, chief executive of J.Jill, leaves. It is a change at short notice. As announced by J.Jill, Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Thursday, March 15, 2018, Paula Bennett leaves her post as Chief Executive Officer at the retailer of women’s clothes, shoes and accessories after almost nine years in the position, effective April 14, 2018.

Among the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in the U.S. based on market capitalization, the average tenure of the CEOs who departed over the past 12 months was 9.2 years, according to data compiled by exechange.

Bennett’s duties will be taken over by Linda Heasley, most recently Chief Executive Officer of The Honey Baked Ham Company, LLC.

Already a director

Heasley is already a director of J.Jill. Often a board member is a last resort, someone who is turned to in desperation when a company cannot find suitable candidates. On the other hand, directors-turned-executives represent a blend of outsider and insider.

They don’t have the constraints of a pure insider when it comes to leading painful changes or making unpopular decisions, and they have more company knowledge than a pure outsider.

Having been a director, Heasley understands the expectations and dynamics of the board and has knowledge of J.Jill’s organization, risk-management practices and strategy.

“We look forward to the company’s next phase of growth”

A reason for Bennett’s imminent departure from the CEO post was not explicitly given. Michael Rahamim, Chairman of the Board, said: “As we look forward to the company’s next phase of growth, we are excited to have Linda, a well-respected retail industry veteran, lead the team.”

Precise information about Bennett’s future plans was not immediately available.

“Consensual retirement”

J.Jill said: “Paula Bennett will retire as President and CEO and Director of J.Jill, Inc.”

J.Jill further said: “On March 15, 2018, the Company announced that Paula Bennett and the Company have agreed to a consensual retirement by Ms. Bennett from her current position as the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer and resignation as a member of the Board.”

Share price decline

The change follows a decline in the share price of J.Jill, Inc. since March 2017.

Chaired by Michael Rahamim

J.Jill, Inc. is chaired by Michael Rahamim.

Michael Rahamim has served as Chairman of the board of directors of J.Jill since the Company’s conversion to a corporation in February 2017 and served as Chairman of the board of directors of the Company’s former parent company since May 2015.

In the position of CEO since 2009

Paula Bennett was appointed President of J.Jill in January 2008 and was named Chief Executive Officer in July 2009.

She has also served on the Company’s board of directors since the Company’s conversion to a corporation in February 2017 and served on the board of directors of the Company’s former parent companies since 2009.

Bennett is responsible for the strategic leadership, growth and profitability of the brand and business, while guiding the organization successfully through profitable turnaround and ownership transitions.

Bennett has over 35 years of retail management experience and has extensive expertise in apparel merchandising, buying, marketing and brand building across both direct and retail marketing channels.

Prior to joining J.Jill, Bennett served as President and Chief Executive Officer of a number of portfolio companies of Orchard Brands Corporation, a direct marketing company.

From 1998 through 2005, Bennett was Chief Operating Officer of Eileen Fisher, Inc., where she led the development of the retail portfolio while launching the E-commerce business. Earlier in her career, she also served as Vice President of Retail Sales at Calvin Klein Collection.

From 1987 through 1995, Bennett held significant leadership positions at Tiffany & Co., including Vice President of Sales and Customer Service, Vice President and General Manager of the Fifth Avenue Flagship store, Vice President of Retail Administration and Vice President of the Trade Division.

Bennett began her career in buying and merchandise management at Bloomingdale’s, and later, Federated Merchandising Services.

Bennett is a graduate of The Ohio State University.

Bennett’s resignation from the Board is effective as of April 14, 2018 and, as of such date, Bennett shall also cease to serve as the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer and any other director and officer position held with any the Company’s affiliates as of such date.

Bennett will work closely with Heasley and the leadership team to ensure a smooth transition.

Push-out Score suggests push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Paula Bennett’s imminent move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange suggests that push-out forces may have contributed to the change.

Read the full story in the exechange report 12.2018 ($).