The Zale Corporation Story
Zale began with a single Zales Jewelers store in 1924. Today, the company has six retail brands and operates approximately 1,700 retail locations throughout North America and online at zales.com, gordonsjewelers.com, zalesoutlet.com, peoplesjewellers.com and pagoda.com.
Morris and William Zale have a vision: Provide customers with quality merchandise at the lowest possible price. The vision becomes reality with the opening of the first Zales Jewelers store in Wichita Falls, Texas, on March 29, 1924. Inventory includes small appliances, cameras and cookware, in addition to jewelry.
The Zale brothers launch a revolutionary marketing strategy with a credit plan of "a penny down and a dollar a week," making jewelry and other merchandise affordable to the average working American.
The success of the credit policy, coupled with friendly customer service, leads to a period of tremendous expansion, with roughly one new store each year for a total of 12 stores in Oklahoma and Texas by 1942. A cooperative buying system is established to centralize the purchase and distribution of merchandise for all stores, which enables the company to buy in larger quantities at lower prices. Centralized buying marks the beginning of the chain store concept for Zales.
Zales Jewelers responds to the limited production of consumer goods during World War II by maintaining its current prices on jewelry, limiting expenses and looking for growth opportunities. Zales acquires Corrigan's of Houston, its first "carriage trade" (fine jewelry) store in 1944, eventually leading to the launch of the Bailey Banks & Biddle brand.
Zales Jewelers moves its headquarters from Wichita Falls to Dallas.
The company installs one of the country's first computer systems and is among the first major jewelers to institute management training.
Zales Jewelers broadens its reach, opening the first store in a shopping center ─ a major shift from operating only in downtown locations. The same year, Zales announces the initial public offering of its stock (ZLC) and begins trading its public shares on the American Stock Exchange the following year.
Following the discovery of synthetic diamond technology, the company diversifies, branching out into shoes, sporting goods, drug stores, furniture and catalog stores. Reflecting this diversity, the company name becomes Zale Corporation.
M.B. Zale retires as company chairman in 1970. The company's sales triple during the decade to $1.04 billion in 1980.
Zale Corporation unveils acquisition of the 890-carat "Incomparable Diamond," the largest internally flawless diamond in the world. In 1985, Zale moves its world headquarters to Irving, Texas.
The leveraged buyout of Zale Corporation by Peoples Jewellers of Canada and Swarovski International of Austria is completed. Gordon's Jewelers, a 469-store chain, is acquired in 1989.
In 1992, Zale Corporation files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but emerges the following year as a financially stronger company after restructuring its debt. Five years later, annual sales top $1.3 billion, showing profit in all four quarters for the first time since the reorganization.
Zales Outlet is launched, giving the corporation 13 locations in premier outlet centers nationwide. Online shopping is launched at www.zales.com.
Zale expands with two major acquisitions: Peoples Jewellers of Canada and Piercing Pagoda.
Zale expands its e-Commerce business with the launch of www.gordonsjewelers.com. To better focus on the core business and increase returns on capital, Zale divests the Bailey Banks & Biddle brand.
The JCK-Harrison Group Consumer Jewelry Study ranks Zales #1 in unaided brand awareness.
Zale Corporation marks the 85th anniversary of the opening of the first Zales Jewelers store with a donation to the M.B. and Edna Zale Foundation, presented to Donald Zale, son of company founder M.B. Zale. Zales Outlet unveils its e-Commerce site with the launch of zalesoutlet.com.
Zale continues to expand its e-Commerce business with two significant launches: pagoda.com, providing an online presence for Piercing Pagoda, and peoplesjewellers.com, bringing multi-channel shopping to consumers across Canada.