Apparel chain J.Jill names new CEO

Claire Spofford has been tapped to be the next chief executive at the Quincy-based J.Jill women’s apparel chain.
Claire Spofford has been tapped to be the next chief executive at the Quincy-based J.Jill women’s apparel chain.Paul Hayes


Apparel chain J.Jill names new CEO

Veteran retail executive Claire Spofford has been tapped to be the next chief executive at the Quincy-based J.Jill women’s apparel chain. It will be a reunion for Spofford, who once served as chief marketing officer for the company. Interim chief executive Jim Scully will remain in charge until Spofford can take over at the 280-store chain, no later than Feb. 15. Spofford most recently was president of Cornerstone Brands, and before that she led Garnet Hill, a Cornerstone division. Like many retailers, J.Jill has struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it avoided filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month by reaching a restructuring deal with key lenders. Scully, then a J.Jill board member, stepped into the CEO’s role after the abrupt departure of Linda Heasley from the job last December. Heasley’s departure was announced on the same day the company reported a nearly 5 percent decline in revenue for the quarter. — JON CHESTO



New boss for Hub office of accounting giant

Accounting and consulting giant KPMG has named a new boss in Boston. John Capone takes over as managing partner, succeeding Darren Donovan in the job overseeing nearly 1,600 people at KPMG across New England and upstate New York. Donovan, meanwhile, has put off his retirement date with the firm to return to its advisory practice. Capone, a Westwood resident, had previously served as the audit leader for the region at KPMG for the last seven years. Before joining KPMG in 2002, Capone spent nearly five years at the Securities and Exchange Commission. KPMG’s Boston market includes offices in Providence, Burlington, Vt., Hartford, Albany, and Rochester, as well as the regional headquarters near South Station. — JON CHESTO


Lower-price Nest thermostat coming

Google is preparing to launch a $129 Nest Thermostat with hand gesture controls, its most aggressively priced offering to date in the smart home thermostat market, according to people familiar with the plans. The new model is set to go on sale soon. The lower price compares with $249 for Nest’s flagship thermostat and the $169 Nest Thermostat E. Like that cheaper model, the new version will have a plastic casing instead of the metal design of the high-end version. Google is also replacing some touch-based controls with a new technology that relies on hand gestures, the sources said. The new thermostat will include a sensor similar to the Soli system included in last year’s Google Pixel 4 phone. The component reads a user’s hand gestures, so they can swipe their hand up or down near the device to control the temperature or move their hand toward or away to navigate menus. A Google spokesperson declined to comment. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Boston hotelier receives honors

Hotelier Dick Friedman was honored last week by Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration with the school’s first-ever ICON Award. Friedman, chief executive of Cambridge-based Carpenter & Co., is among the most prominent hotel developers in the country. Among the firm’s most recent projects: the One Dalton tower in the Back Bay, a Four Seasons development with 215 hotel rooms and 161 luxury condos. Friedman’s other local projects include the Liberty Hotel in Boston and the Charles Hotel in Cambridge. Next up: a $160 million hotel in Iceland and a Four Seasons development in New Orleans. — JON CHESTO


Rapper plans digital bank for customers of color

Mike Render, better known as Killer Mike the rapper, political activist, and restaurateur, has a new project: launching a digital bank, called Greenwood, aimed at Black people and Latinos. The Atlanta bank began accepting account applications Thursday via mobile phone app and website, though services won’t be available until next year. Render and partners raised $3 million from private investors to address a dearth of Black-owned banks. Greenwood’s debit card is made from black-colored metal. The bank will charge lower fees to open new accounts and offer training for basic skills in personal finance. The name, Greenwood, refers to the prosperous Tulsa, Okla., neighborhood once known as the Black Wall Street before it was burned to the ground by a white mob in 1921. Greenwood has several Black executives, including co-founder and chairman Ryan Glover, founder of Bounce TV, and former Bank of America executive Aparicio Giddins. Render has also met with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to discuss increasing minority participation in state contracts, and also sees an opportunity to collect deposits, which are the lifeblood of any bank. — COX NEWSPAPERS



West Virginia lands hyperloop project

Virgin Hyperloop One will build a certification center in West Virginia for the high-speed transportation concept that uses enclosed pods to zip passengers underground at over 600 mph. The company plans a 6-mile testing track and other facilities over hundreds of acres for the electromagnetic levitation transportation technology. Hyperloop technology, which Tesla founder Elon Musk is also developing, hopes to one day provide clean-energy fast travel across the country. Virgin is studying a route that would link Chicago and Pittsburgh in under an hour. West Virginia and Virgin officials said the new center will bring thousands of temporary construction jobs to a state that has witnessed economic decline with the downturn of the coal industry. The facility will employ up to 200 full-time workers when completed. Missouri had hoped to be picked for a Hyperloop track that would transport passengers between St. Louis and Kansas City in 30 minutes, and a dozen other states also pursued the Virgin project. The center will be located over 800 acres in Tucker and Grant counties in northeast West Virginia. Construction is planned to begin in 2021 on an assembly facility. Virgin will partner with Marshall University and West Virginia University. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



London’s Wall Street going green

London’s financial district is planning to eliminate its carbon dioxide emissions by 2040, investing 68 million pounds to tackle climate change and create 800 jobs over the next six years. The Square Mile area will see more streets dedicated to walking and cycling, new parks, timed street closures, and the installation of flood-resistant road surfaces, under a plan announced Thursday by the City of London Corp. New developments will be required to have carbon-reduction plans in their designs, and green wall space that includes plants will increase by 50 percent. What will be most challenging is reducing the emissions that it doesn’t directly cause. Just 2.3 percent of its emissions are from its own operations or suppliers, with the rest covering everything it buys, sells, invests in, leases to others, and disposes of, as well as commuting and business travel. The corporation won’t use carbon offsets to deal with those emissions and instead will take practical steps to eliminate them. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Canadian university bets big on environment and social debt

The University of Toronto is wagering the booming environmental, social, and governance credit sector will outperform traditional investments. RP Investment Advisors LP has raised$161 million from the university’s pension and endowment manager. It will invest in the debt of companies that have committed to reducing their carbon footprint, according to David Matheson, RPIA’s head of portfolio management. The strategy for the University of Toronto has returned 7.91 percent this year through August, Mike Quinn, the chief investment officer at RPIA, said, versus 6.65 percent for a comparable bond index. Toronto-based RPIA is one of several money managers deepening their push into sustainable strategies. The investing world of ESG just broke through another barrier, as total green bond issuance topped $1 trillion in the past week, joining ESG-focused funds that have a similar amount in assets under management. — BLOOMBERG NEWS