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Zale's top executives depart | Retail

After leading Zale Corp. out of its struggling years, CEO Theo Killion has decided to leave the Irving-based retailer as of July 31.

Much of the Zale C-suite is clearing out.

Other key executives on Killion’s turnaround team have also resigned after Zale was sold in May to the parent company of the Kay and Jared chains, Signet Jewelers, for $1.4 billion.

Chief administrative officer Matt Appel, chief marketing officer Richard Lennox, chief merchandising and sourcing officer Gil Hollander and chief of stores Becky Mick all decided to leave. Their departures were confirmed by Signet.

George Murray, Signet’s chief integration management officer, has been promoted to president of the Zale Division and will succeed Killion. Zale CFO Thomas Haubenstricker will stay on as division CFO.

Signet said there are no plans to move the Zale operations from Irving.

David Bouffard, a spokesman for Signet, said the Zale executives’ decisions to resign or remain were each personal.

They are all among a dozen top Zale officers and directors who gained more than $60 million from stock sales. Killion’s gain from shares that vested at the time of the sale was $21.2 million.

Killion became CEO of Zale in 2010 and stabilized the business after a rocky decade. He led a turnaround that included sales gains and a return to


“We are saddened by Theo’s decision,” Bouffard said. “However, we respect his desire to spend more time with his family and to pursue other professional interests beyond Zale and Signet.” Killion is also on the board of apparel retailer Express Inc.

“Theo has been a true professional throughout the entire acquisition period and transition process and should be recognized and praised for successfully leading the Zale Corp. through a very challenging and transformational time,” Bouffard said.

Killion, who’s 63, and Lennox, 49, have been commuting while their families live in Chicago and New York. Killion has said he wants to spend more time with his grandchildren.

Killion wasn’t available for comment. He held a town hall meeting with Zale’s 1,100 corporate employees Tuesday morning to announce his decision.

He could be a candidate for several CEO openings in the retail business if he’s interested.

Dollar General is the most recent chain to join a long list of retailers in search of a CEO. Last week, its top executive announced that he will retire next year. Target has an interim CEO. Teen retailer American Eagle Outfitters is looking for a CEO. J.C. Penney CEO Mike Ullman came back to run the company for a while and is part of the team looking for his successor.

Category: Business

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