OPERATIONS

Visible Brands adds P&G vet, Safeway board member to board, council

BY Dan Berthiaume

Kirkland, Wash. – Digital coupon provider VisibleBrands has added former Procter & Gamble VP Jan Murley to its board of directors, while former Safeway Stores board member Rebecca Stirn was added to the company’s advisory council.

Murley was a 23-year marketing veteran with Procter and Gamble and was the VP of its skin care division. Stirn was on Safeway’s board of directors from 1999 to 2010. She has more than two decades of executive marketing experience with a variety of industries.

“The addition of these two highly respected industry executives to our team from opposite ends of the grocery marketing spectrum will allow us to make smarter decisions going forward, as well as provide an added stamp of credibility and validation as we continue to forge a new path in the $100 billion U.S. couponing industry,” said Tim Belvin, CEO of Visible Brands.

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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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News

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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