Robert J. DiNicola, chairman and chief executive officer of Zale Corp., will retire at the end of the current fiscal year on July 31.
No successor to DiNicola was immediately announced. Richard Marcus, speaking on behalf of the Zale board of directors, said, “We will take the next several months to explore succession alternatives” while DiNicola and his management team “continue to focus on the business and bringing a successful close to the fiscal year.”
DiNicola first became chairman and CEO of Zale in 1994, after Zale’s return from bankruptcy reorganization. He built a skilled executive management team, restored Zale Corp. to financial stability (with annual sales topping $1 billion), began expanding, again, internally and through acquisitions in the United States and Canada, and returned Zale to its former spot as industry leader. Today, Zale is the largest jewelry retailer in North America and the world.
In 1999, DiNicola relinquished his CEO responsibilities to prepare the company for an orderly leadership transition. One of his last actions then was the acquisition of Piercing Pagoda, the largest chain of gold jewelry mall kiosks, giving Zale, finally, a presence in every major segment of the jewelry industry.
He retired in September 2000, and was succeeded by Beryl Raff, formerly Zale Corp. president, as chairman and chief executive officer. In her first months, however, sales and earnings dropped sharply due to her new strategy that emphasized aggressive promotions of fashion- and lower-priced jewelry. On Feb. 12, she suddenly resigned, reportedly in disagreement with the board of directors’ intent to change her marketing strategy. DiNicola returned as chairman and CEO in February 2001 at the request of the board.
“In a short span of time, and under extremely difficult circumstances,” noted Marcus, “[DiNicola] and the team were able to stabilize the business and position the company for future growth.”
In making his announcement on Mar. 8, DiNicola said, “I returned to the corporation to help get Zale back to its leadership position. I am very happy to report that [it] has not only weathered one of the most difficult years in retailing history, but has also emerged in solid shape and well positioned for a strong and productive future.
“Having completed the objectives for which I returned, I can now look forward to resuming my retirement and spending quality time with my wife and two children.”
He thanked “everyone at Zale Corporation” noting that “once again, our superb team has demonstrated its ability to deliver even in the toughest of circumstances.”
Upon retirement, Mr. DiNicola will become a consultant to Zale Corp.
Marcus noted that, “With the business back on track, the management team strengthened, and the integration of Piercing Pagoda and the new credit business completed, the board of directors can now turn its attention to ensuring an orderly transition.” He thanked DiNicola for “putting his retirement plans on hold last year and returning to the company,” and wished DiNicola and his wife “the very best in all of their future plans.”
Zale Corporation operates more than 2,300 retail locations in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, an online. Zale Corporation’s business units include Zales Jewelers, Zales Outlet, Zales Direct at www.zales.com, Gordon’s Jewelers, Bailey, Banks & Biddle Fine Jewelers, Peoples Jewellers, Mappins Jewellers and Piercing Pagoda. Additional information on Zale Corporation and its brands is available on the Internet at www.zalecorp.com.