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Zale Corp.

National retailer of fine jewelry.

Headquarters:
901 West Walnut Hill Lane
Irving, TX 75038
Employees: 11,900
CEO: Theophilus Killion
Stock Symbol: ZLC

Website: http://www.zalecorp.com

Career Site

Zale is a leading specialty retailer of fine jewelry with 1,064 retail locations throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico under the following brand names: Zales Jewelers, Zales Outlet, Gordon's Jewelers, Peoples Jewellers, Mappins Jewelers of Canada and Piercing Pagoda.

Zale also operates online at www.zales.com and www.gordonsjewelers.com.

The company announced in February it would be acquired by Signet Corporation, the largest speciality jeweler in the U.S. and UK, for $21 per share or $1.4 billion.

Zale is driven by three core product categories that cater to each consumer segment with varying intensity. The bridal category, a differentiating factor for a fine jeweler, enjoys consistent, stable demand and establishes lifelong customer relationships. The fashion segment inspires gift giving and self purchases while allowing the Company to maximize the peak holiday periods. The watch business provides additional brand appeal, enhancing the Company's ability to further drive traffic.

The company reported revenues of $1.88 billion for fiscal 2013, up from $1.86 billion the previous year. Net income was $10.0 million.

History

In the 1920s, Morris (M.B.) and William Zale had a vision: to provide customers with quality merchandise at the lowest possible price. This vision became a reality when the first Zales Jewelers store opened in Wichita Falls, Texas, on March 29, 1924.

With a credit plan of "a penny down and a dollar a week," the Zale brothers launched a marketing strategy considered to be revolutionary at the time, and thus made jewelry and other merchandise affordable to the average working American. Friendly customer service, liberal credit policies, and dedicated employees led to great success and expansion, with 12 stores in Oklahoma and Texas by 1941.

During World War II, Zales Jewelers responded to the limited production of consumer goods by maintaining its current prices on jewelry, limiting expenses, and looking for growth opportunities. These efforts were rewarded in 1944 with the acquisition of Corrigan's of Houston, Zales' first "carriage trade" (fine jewelry) store, whose purchase eventually launched the Bailey Banks & Biddle brand.

In 1946, Zales Jewelers moved its headquarters from Wichita Falls to Dallas. The corporate offices were housed in the Mercantile Bank Building, the first of several locations. The company continued to prosper and in 1952, a profit sharing plan was introduced to employees.

Zales Jewelers took major steps in 1957 to broaden its reach in the marketplace. The first shopping center location was opened, marking a major shift from its strategy of operating only downtown stores. The same year, Zales announced the initial public offering of its stock (ZLC) and then began trading its public shares on the American Stock Exchange the following year.

The 1960s were a decade of diversity. The 119-store chain began branching out into other markets - shoes, sporting goods, drug stores, furniture and catalogue stores. In fact, the shareholders decided to change the company name to Zale Corporation to reflect the diversity of the business.

The decade of the '70s brought continued expansion. Zale Corporation grew to more than 1,700 stores and posted a single-day sales record of $10 million.

In 1984, Zale Corporation unveiled its newest acquisition - the 890-carat "Incomparable Diamond," the largest internally flawless diamond in the world. The next year, Zale moved its world headquarters into a 430,000-square-foot complex in Irving, Texas, its current location.

The company's history was significantly altered with the 1986 leveraged buyout of Zale Corporation by Peoples Jewellers of Canada and Swarovski International of Austria. Expansion continued, however, with the purchase in 1989 of the Gordon's Jewelers chain of 469 stores.

The 1990s marked another critical turning point for the corporation when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1992. The following year, the company emerged from bankruptcy after restructuring its debt. Five years later, 1998 became the "breakaway year" for Zale with annual sales that topped $1.3 billion - up from $920 million in 1994 - and a 25 percent net earnings growth (excluding unusual items). During its tremendous turnaround year, the company showed profit in all four quarters for the first time since the reorganization. That same year, Zales Outlet was launched, giving the corporation 13 locations in premier outlet centers in the United States.

Expansion again became the primary growth strategy with two major acquisitions: Peoples Jewellers of Canada in 1999 and Piercing Pagoda, Inc. in 2000.

In 2007, Zale divested the Bailey Banks & Biddle brand to focus on the core business and increase returns on capital.

Benefits

* Medical and dental insurance
* Group life insurance
* Short-term and long-term disability coverage
* Flexible spending accounts
* 401(k)
* Paid sick leave
* Paid time off
* Tuition aid
* Merchandise discounts
* Adoption assistance
* Employee development
* Credit union

Updated March 22, 2014