Signet Jewelers says 'I do' on purchase of Zale

Signet Jewelers says it will pay $900 million for its smaller rival, Zale. The deal must be approved by Zale shareholders.
Published: February 19, 2014
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— All the single ladies: Put your hands up.

The largest U.S. jewelry chain on Wednesday decided to put a ring on its much smaller rival, creating a $6 billion jewelry juggernaut with expansive reach in North America.

Signet Jewelers, owner of Jared The Galleria with its “He went to Jared” slogan and Kay Jeweler with its “Every Kiss Begins with Kay” ads, agreed to buy Zale for roughly $900 million.

On news of the planned acquisition, Signet’s stock rose more than 18 percent, while shares of Zale soared more than 40 percent.

The deal underscores the harsh realities of the $32.8 billion jewelry business since the Great Recession. Sales of necklaces, rings and other jewels got hammered during the economic downturn.

“The deal is a rational response to the imbalance of supply and demand,” said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a retail consultancy in New Canaan, Conn.

Analysts say the abundance of stores is a scenario that has played out in malls across the country where some of Signet’s stores go head-to-head with Zale’s “Zales” branded stores. But they say Signet has fared better.

Signet has 1,400 Jared and Kay stores in the U.S. and 500 stores in the U.K. under the names H. Samuel and Ernest Jones.

Signet Jewelers Ltd., which is based in Bermuda, reported that revenue at stores opened at least a year rose 5 percent during in November and December combined.

Dallas-based Zale Corp. has 1,680 stores in North America under Zales, Gordon’s and other names. The company, which went through a liquidity crisis in 2009, has closed hundreds of stores and has been trying to expand its bridal merchandise.



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