Zale Tried Too Much?

Too much, too soon: That's what some former Zale insiders are saying about chief executive officer Neal Goldberg's plans last holiday. Shortly before the Christmas season, on a conference call with investors, Goldberg, who has often expressed dissatisfaction with conventional jewelry marketing, confidently announced his holiday strategy: Zale's stores would stock more proprietary products, including fashion watches and its new Shared Hearts line. Its advertising would be less focused on TV and have a greater online component. And margins would be higher. But some complain this moved Zale away from its core value message at a time when recession-crunched shoppers may have been receptive to it. And, indeed, consumers seemed unmoved by the new Zale: Sales in November fell 18 percent, with most of the drop occurring the weekend after Thanksgiving. Follow

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