By  on February 16, 2009

De Beers, the diamond jewelry company, has promoted chief operating officer Hamida Belkadi to chief executive officer of U.S. operations.

The post had been vacant since Alyce Alston left in 2007. Belkadi, who became chief operating officer in July 2007, reports to worldwide ceo Guy Leymarie. She began working for De Beers in 2005 as vice president of sales and marketing, and previously worked at Cartier for 18 years.

Belkadi spearheaded the growth of the De Beers store network, increasing to 11 boutiques across the country from five. In 2008, stores opened in Dallas, San Francisco, Costa Mesa, Calif., and Naples and Bal Harbour, Fla., joining units in New York, Beverly Hills, Washington, Las Vegas, Waikiki and Houston.

The company’s U.S. strategy for 2009 is to bolster store sales by promoting bridal product, special collections and classic diamond jewelry.

“We opened five stores last year,” Belkadi said. “We have to solidify those stores and get them going.”

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