By  on January 13, 2010

The executive suite at struggling Zale Corp. was turned upside down Wednesday when the jeweler said chief executive officer Neal Goldberg, chief stores officer William Acevedo and chief merchandising officer Mary Kwan all had left the company.

President Theo Killion, the former Tommy Hilfiger, Limited Brands and Macy’s East executive who joined the firm two years ago, has taken on the additional role of interim ceo and will be responsible for all store operations. Additionally, Gil Hollander, executive vice president and chief sourcing and supply chain officer, has become chief merchandising officer.

“Our board is determined to do all in its power to put in place effective leadership to help return the company to profitability,” said chairman John B. Lowe Jr. “These management changes will help facilitate renewed focus on Zale’s core diamond business.”

The exodus caps what has been a tumultuous stretch for the 1,900-door chain. Last year, the firm restated 2008 and 2009 earnings, posted a loss of $57.6 million for the first quarter ended Oct. 31 and cut orders and delayed payments to vendors after November same-store sales fell 18.6 percent.

Matt Appel, executive vice president and chief financial officer, told WWD there would be no more changes “of this magnitude,” referring to the departures.

Appel also noted, “We’ve made very substantial progress in terms of our trade payables and we are much closer to current than we were. We told the trade that we would pay them and we have lived up to that commitment. We’re conserving cash to pay the people who support this business.”

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