Retailer News

MARKS BROS. CHANGES NAME

Marks Bros. Jewelers Inc., one of the largest retail jewelers in the United States, has formally changed its corporate name to Whitehall Jewellers Inc., the name of its largest chain of jewelry stores. The Chicago company?s stock will now trade on the NASDAQ under the symbol ?WHJI.? The announcement was made Jan. 20 by Hugh Patinkin, chairman and chief executive officer.

The decision to change the name ?aligns our corporate name with that of our principal retail brand,? says Patinkin. ?As we continue to expand our successful Whitehall store concept, we believe this change will unify our identity among our consumers and the investment community.?

The firm expects to add at least 35 stores this year to the 250 it had in 28 states as of early January. It operates stores in regional and super-regional shopping malls under the names of Whitehall Co. Jewellers, Lundstrom Jewellers, and Marks Bros. Jewelers. ? William George Shuster

TIFFANY GETS NEW CEO, POSTS 20% HOLIDAY GAIN

The new year has already been an eventful one for Tiffany & Co. The luxury jewelry retailer, which operates more than 100 stores and boutiques worldwide, has appointed a new CEO. The company also reported strong holiday sales and saw an important Asian institutional investor sell its shares in Tiffany.

Michael J. Kowalski, 46, a 17-year Tiffany veteran who had been president and chief operating officer, has taken the helm as CEO. ?The time is approaching when I would like to pass on more of the work load,? says Tiffany chairman William R. Chaney, 66, who had been CEO for 15 years. Kowalski?s promotion is part of what Chaney calls ?an orderly succession plan [that] assures continuity in the top management leadership and direction of Tiffany in the 21st century.? Chaney says he will continue as an ?active? chairman.

Kowalski?s appointment comes on the heels of a 20% gain in worldwide sales for the 1998 holiday period. U.S. sales jumped 22%, and even in recession-plagued Japan, sales rose 15%.

Meanwhile, Mitsukoshi Ltd., one of Japan?s largest department store chains, announced plans to sell 4.2 million shares of Tiffany stock. That represents 12% of Tiffany and is valued at about $267 million. Domestic economic problems have led Mitsukoshi and other major Japanese retailers to pull back from international ventures and focus on their home market. Mitsukoshi and Tiffany have had a business relationship since 1972, and Mitsukoshi has been a major shareholder in the retailer since 1989. ? William George Shuster

Alson Jewelers of Cleveland supported the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation by sponsoring the Northeast Ohio Race for the Cure, which benefits the foundation, and donating proceeds from the sale of a $45 crystal heart paperweight. Diane Markel (second from left), corporate sponsor chairwoman for the race, welcomes sponsors to a pre-event cocktail party held at the store along with company president Richard Schreibman (left), special-events coordinator and housewares buyer Marcia Schreibman, and store manager John Sullivan.

DESIGNER EVE ALFILLÉ MARKS 25TH ANNIVERSARY

Jewelry designer Eve Alfillé celebrated 25 years in business with an open house for some 600 guests at her Evanston, Ill., gallery. The event, hosted by Chicago magazine, also marked the introduction of Alfillé?s latest jewelry collection.

Alson Jewelers of Cleveland supported the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation by sponsoring the Northeast Ohio Race for the Cure, which benefits the foundation, and donating proceeds from the sale of a $45 crystal heart paperweight. Diane Markel (second from left), corporate sponsor chairwoman for the race, welcomes sponsors to a pre-event cocktail party held at the store along with company president Richard Schreibman (left), special-events coordinator and housewares buyer Marcia Schreibman, and store manager John Sullivan.

BERNIE ROBBINS NAMED ?BEST OF PHILLY?

Philadelphia magazine honored Bernie Robbins Jewelers with its 1998 Best of Philly award for watches. The company, with five stores throughout the Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is an official distributor of Rolex watches.

MARKS BROS. CHANGES NAME

Marks Bros. Jewelers Inc., one of the largest retail jewelers in the United States, has formally changed its corporate name to Whitehall Jewellers Inc., the name of its largest chain of jewelry stores. The Chicago company?s stock will now trade on the NASDAQ under the symbol ?WHJI.? The announcement was made Jan. 20 by Hugh Patinkin, chairman and chief executive officer.

The decision to change the name ?aligns our corporate name with that of our principal retail brand,? says Patinkin. ?As we continue to expand our successful Whitehall store concept, we believe this change will unify our identify among our consumers and the investment community.?

The firm expects to add at least 35 stores this year to the 250 it had in 28 states as of early January. It operates stores in regional and super-regional shopping malls under the names of Whitehall Co. Jewellers, Lundstrom Jewellers, and Marks Bros. Jewelers. ? William George Shuster

TIFFANY GETS NEW CEO, POSTS 20% HOLIDAY GAIN

The new year has already been an eventful one for Tiffany & Co. The luxury jewelry retailer, which operates more than 100 stores and boutiques worldwide, has appointed a new CEO. The company also reported strong holiday sales and saw an important Asian institutional investor sell its shares in Tiffany.

Michael J. Kowalski, 46, a 17-year Tiffany veteran who had been president and chief operating officer, has taken the helm as CEO. ?The time is approaching when I would like to pass on more of the work load,? says Tiffany chairman William R. Chaney, 66, who had been CEO for 15 years. Kowalski?s promotion is part of what Chaney calls ?an orderly succession plan [that] assures continuity in the top management leadership and direction of Tiffany in the 21st century.? Chaney says he will continue as an ?active? chairman.

Kowalski?s appointment comes on the heels of a 20% gain in worldwide sales for the 1998 holiday period. U.S. sales jumped 22%, and even in recession-plagued Japan, sales rose 15%.

Meanwhile, Mitsukoshi Ltd., one of Japan?s largest department store chains, announced plans to sell 4.2 million shares of Tiffany stock. That represents 12% of Tiffany and is valued at about $267 million. Domestic economic problems have led Mitsukoshi and other major Japanese retailers to pull back from international ventures and focus on their home market. Mitsukoshi and Tiffany have had a business relationship since 1972, and Mitsukoshi has been a major shareholder in the retailer since 1989. ?William George Shuster