Signet has selected board member Virginia “Gina” C. Drosos as its new CEO, effective August 1, replacing company veteran Mark Light.
Light, 55, who has served as CEO since 2014, decided to retire after 35 years with the company due to unspecified health reasons, according to a company statement. His departure comes after he did not attend this year’s JCK Las Vegas show. Spokesman David Bouffard told The Washington Post the condition was “serious but not life-threatening.”
Drosos, 54, has served as a Signet board member since 2012. She is Signet’s first female CEO and its fourth chief executive in the last seven years.
She most recently served as president and CEO of Assurex Health, overseeing the biotech firm’s sale in 2016. Prior to that, she served for 25 years at Proctor & Gamble Company. As group president, global beauty care, she oversaw a $6 billion business that included more than 20 brands. There, according to a company statement, she transformed the marketing of brands like CoverGirl, Old Spice, and Olay. She holds an MBA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
Light’s departure caps an unexpectedly tumultuous three years as head of the company. A well-respected company veteran whose father Nathan once headed the Signet division—and whose brother supplied the name for the Jared chain—Light is generally credited with helping build Sterling Jewelers into the country’s largest jewelry retailer. When he took over for Michael Barnes three years ago, most thought he represented continuity.
But his tenure was marked by a series of controversies, over credit, stone-switching, and gender discrimination. The company protested the issues were all baseless, but they, and the tough retail climate, seemed to take their toll. In the latest quarter, Signet’s comp sales fell 11.5 percent.
“I’m very proud of all that Signet has been able to accomplish over the course of my career and it has been a privilege to work with such outstanding colleagues over these many years,” said Light in a statement. “Given the company’s positive direction and my need to address some health issues, the Board and I agreed that it is a good time for a transition.”
In a statement, Drosos pledge to deliver on “[Signet’s] revised 2020 Vision, which is focused on bridal, digital, and women’s fashion. Signet is well positioned to continue to drive its unprecedented leadership in diamond jewelry and expand its market share in growing categories, such as fashion jewelry. I am committed to…transform Signet to become a more innovative, digital-first, and data-driven retailer.”
(Image courtesy of Signet Jewelers)