Women's apparel retailer and catalogue company J Jill Group Inc on Thursday revealed it expects lower fourth quarter earnings amid soft mail-order sales.

The company said in a statement it now expects fourth-quarter earnings to slip to 25 cents to 30 cents per share from 37 cents per share in 2001 with sales seen in the range of $102 million to $107.5m compared to $91.7m last year.

President and CEO Gordon Cooke said: "Sales for our historically predictable Best Seller catalogue, which began to mail in early November, were significantly below plan.

"While we are clearly disappointed with our projected results, we do expect to report a record fiscal 2002, both in terms of sales and earnings. We recognise that we have some short-term issues to work through and we are dedicated to getting the business back on track."