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Fine Jeweler Zale Cautiously Optimistic about 2010

28 december 2009

The delayed fourth quarter and fiscal results for fine jeweler Zale Corp indicate that jewelry sales slid by 16.8% during the fiscal year of 2009, according to www.israelidiamond.co.il.

Fine jeweler Zale's revenues for the fiscal year 2009, ending on July 31, 2009, totaled $1.78 billion, in comparison to $2.14 billion in the fiscal year of 2008. Same-store sales declined by 16.6%, as compared to a 0.7% decline in 2008. Gross margins dropped from 49% in 2008 to 46.7% in fiscal 2009.

For the fourth quarter, Zale’s revenues reached $357.1 million, a decline of 21.7% in comparison to $456.2 million in the fourth quarter 2008. Same-store sales for the fourth quarter dropped by 21.2% in comparison to a 6.1% increase in the fourth quarter of 2008. The fine jewelry company attributes the disparity to the clearance sales it held at its jewelry stores during the fourth quarter of last year.
 
CEO Neal Goldberg stated: "Our financial results for fiscal 2009 reflected the most difficult year in jewelry retailing in memory. Nonetheless, we believe we have positioned the business for much-improved performance."

Goldberg told National Jeweler that the company is currently promoting new merchandising initiatives including the Shared Hearts Collection, Fashion Watches and the Everlon Collection.

In September, De Beers unveiled the Everlon knot-themed diamond as a new concept aimed to promote diamond jewelry sales this holiday season.
Goldberg explained to National Jeweler that Shared Hearts is a line of heart-within-a-heart jewelry pieces with prices ranging between $35 to just under $1,000. The concept conveys the concept of two hearts beating as one. Zale announced that it plans donate part of the proceeds from the sale of the jewelry line to the charity Autism Speaks.

Goldberg and Chief Financial Officer Matthew Appel noted that the financial results for 2009 were "disappointing" but stated that the jewelry company remains "cautiously optimistic" regarding 2010.

Zale is North America's largest jewelry retailer by store count. Zale operates a total of 1,931 retail jewelry locations, including 1,247 jewelry stores and 684 kiosks.

In the fourth quarter the fine jewelry company closed down 118 locations, including 108 jewelry stores and 10 kiosks.