FINANCE

Signet Jewelers to acquire Zale Corp.

BY Marianne Wilson

Hamilton, Bermuda – In a deal that would combine the two largest mid-tier jewelry chains in the United States, Signet Jewelers Ltd. has agreed to buy rival Zale Corp. The total estimated value of the deal is about $1.4 billion. Signet will offer $21 in cash for each Zale share, representing a 41% premium over Tuesday’s closing price.

"This transformational acquisition further diversifies our businesses and extends our international footprint, opening the door to greater growth and innovation across the enterprise," stated Mike Barnes, CEO, Signet Jewelers, whose U.S. operations are based in Akron, Ohio.

Signet operates over 1,400 stores in all 50 states, primarily under the banners of Kay Jewelers and Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry. It is also the largest jewelry retailer in the United Kingdom, where it operates about 500 stores.

Zale, which is coming off a successful multi-year turnaround effort, operates some 1,680 stores throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Zale’s brands include Zales Jewelers, Zales Outlet, Gordon’s Jewelers, Peoples Jewellers, Mappins Jewellers and Piercing Pagoda.

Signet said it plans for Zale Corp. to continue to be run by Zale CEO Theo Killion, who would report directly to Signet CEO Mike Barnes.

Signet said the enhanced operating capabilities resulting from the acquisition are expected to generate about $100 million in synergies within the first three years, and contribute in the high, single-digit percentages to profits within the first fiscal year, excluding the costs of the transaction.

The acquisition, which is subject to Zale stockholder approval, will be financed through debt and the securitization of a significant portion of Signet’s accounts receivable portfolio.

As part of the transaction, Signet said it entered into a voting and support agreement with Golden Gate Capital, the beneficial owner of about 22% of Zale’s common stock.

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Whirlpool bolsters board

BY CSA STAFF

Whirlpool has elected Geraldine "Gerri" Elliott, EVP and chief customer officer at Juniper Networks, to its board of directors.

"Gerri has exceptional information technology and leadership expertise, and we are delighted to welcome her to our board," said Jeff M. Fettig, Whirlpool’s chairman and CEO. "As we drive results in an increasingly digital economy, Gerri’s strategic understanding of transformative digital technologies, as well as her global marketing, sales and service experience, will be invaluable to our board of directors and Whirlpool Corporation."

Elliott was appointed EVP and chief customer officer of Juniper Networks in 2013, after prior roles as EVP and chief sales officer, and as EVP of strategic alliances. In January 2014, Elliott announced her personal decision to retire from Juniper, effective later in the year. In her current role, she drives the strategic and operational objectives for the company’s global marketing, sales, systems engineering, advanced technologies, channel partners, field operations and customer service and support organizations. Elliott joined Juniper in 2009 from Microsoft Corporation, where she held a series of senior executive positions, including as corporate VP of the company’s Worldwide Public Sector organization. Prior to joining Microsoft, Elliott spent 22 years at IBM Corporation, where she held executive and management positions in strategy development, services and consulting, product management and sales leadership.

Elliott has a bachelor’s degree in international politics from New York University. She serves on the advisory boards for Catalyst and the Center for Executive Women Senior Leadership Program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

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Shopzilla acquires Connexity

BY CSA STAFF

Shopzilla, a leading source for connecting buyers and sellers online, has acquired Connexity, a pioneer in the programmatic media buying and optimization space.

“Shopzilla is in the business of connecting millions of consumers with retailers and brands, whether it’s on our owned and operated sites, our publisher network, or through Aisle A, our fast-growing audience activation division,” said Bill Glass, CEO of Shopzilla. “We have been investing substantially in data science to build out a compelling set of audience segments for advertisers of all types — retailers, brands, and manufacturers. This capacity, combined with Connexity’s programmatic media buying platform, will give Aisle A unprecedented reach to deliver targeted audiences in scale for its marketing partners.”

Shopzilla and Connexity have been partnering for the past year. Shopzilla expects to fully integrate Connexity’s platform into the Aisle A division in the next few months. The entire Connexity team, including its co-founder and CEO, Dave Gross, will be joining the Aisle A team.

According to the company, Aisle A will help to identify, reach and convert high value consumers through an audience-centric programmatic solution. The Aisle A audiences, referred to as “Aisles,” will be available exclusively through the platform and the team will be rolling out a new suite of audience centric products in the coming months, including the ability to reach multiple devices in the household with bridged multiscreen targeting.

Aisle A, the audience activation division of Shopzilla, specializes in leveraging the power of shopping to create value for brands, manufacturers and retailers. It is powered by proprietary data and premium retail inventory collected from Shopzilla’s portfolio of shopping websites and a premium partner network. Aisle A is headquartered in Los Angeles with regional offices in New York, Chicago and London.

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