Zale reports 1.6% increase in gross revenue

Zale Corp., the largest U.S. specialty jeweler, on Thursday said total revenue for the fourth quarter, ended July 31, rose 1.6%, to $442.4 million.

The Dallas-based jeweler said it earned $6.7 million for the quarter before special items, up from $5.1 million for the same period in 2002.

However, when those special items are included the company said its net income fell to $2.93 million for the quarter, from $3.65 million a year earlier.

Zale paid down more expensive debt and obtained a new line of credit at a lower interest rate so that it could buy back shares and expand, the company said.

For fiscal year 2003, Zale posted a net loss of $40.6 million from gains of $143.9 million in fiscal 2002. Revenue edged up slightly to $2.21 billion from $2.19 billion in the previous fiscal year. Same-store sales increased less than 1% for the year.

Zale Corp. is North America’s largest specialty retailer of fine jewelry operating approximately 2,235 retail locations throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico, as well as online. Zale Corporation’s brands include Zales Jewelers, Zales Outlet, Zale Direct at www.zales.com, Gordon’s Jewelers, Bailey Banks & Biddle Fine Jewelers, Peoples Jewellers, Mappins Jewellers, and Piercing Pagoda.