Media Watch: Tiffany, Lazare Kaplan, Zale

OK, I usually post things from the web on Friday, but some interesting stuff appeared over the weekend that I thought might generate some good discussions. I am not endorsing any of the ideas in the articles, just posting them as food for thought:

– First, this Wall Street Journal blog post on Tiffany’s new stores, that argues that the company’s plan to open new stores, which I talked about last week, risks hurting the company’s image by “going down-market.” Last week, the company’s spokesperson told me the new stores “are not a budget version of Tiffany’s,” and stressed the company would never do anything to hurt its brand. Still, these new stores are eliminating “statement jewelry” pieces, and one would assume, to lure the female self-purchaser, overall price points would be lower.  That doesn’t mean that this is a “budget” version — but basically doubling the amount of Tiffany stores in the U.S. is a dramatic action, and I can see why it has raised at least some eyebrows.

Now, so far, Tiffany management have managed their brand exceptionally well. (Take a look at this article from the Independent, which singles out Tiffany’s efforts against conflict diamonds. And that is just one of many.)  I wrote Tiffany about the WSJ post last week, and so far have not heard back.

Also, another Tiffany story I missed last week: Its president is exercising his stock options. And takeover rumors persist.

– Second, this post speculates Lazare Kaplan is about to go private. I am not sure I follow the logic here, but I’ve written the company and will let you know if I hear anything.

– Finally, this AP article on Zale doesn’t have much new but notes that 18% of the company’s stock is now in the hands of three hedge funds.

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JCK News Director