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In Brief: Zale Closures… Wet Seal Exit

Zale Corp. said Wednesday it will close 105 stores and cut 20 percent of its headquarters' staff to streamline operations to generate $65 million in yearly...

ZALE CLOSURES: Zale Corp. said Wednesday it will close 105 stores and cut 20 percent of its headquarters’ staff to streamline operations to generate $65 million in yearly savings. The company said $5 million in savings will be realized in the fourth quarter ending July 31 from the restructuring. The Dallas-based jewelry chain said some of its planned operational initiatives, reduction of $100 million in inventory and reduced spending from $85 million in fiscal 2008 to $45 million in fiscal 2009, were announced previously. Of the 105 locations, 95 are considered underperforming and 50 are kiosks. The company, cutting 225 jobs, has already eliminated 140 filled positions and 85 open posts at headquarters. “In order to improve Zale’s overall performance and provide our value-oriented customer with an exceptional experience, it is essential that we reduce the company’s infrastructure costs, which have outpaced its sales growth since 2002,” said Neal Goldberg, Zale’s president and chief executive officer.

WET SEAL EXIT: The Wet Seal Inc. chief operating officer Gary White has resigned to become chief executive officer of United Retail Group Inc., a subsidiary of Redcats USA Inc. The company does not plan to replace White, who was hired in 2004. Ed Thomas, Wet Seal’s ceo, indicated that he will assume some of White’s duties and will distribute others among company managers. Wet Seal, a retailer of young women’s contemporary apparel and accessories, operates 494 stores in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.