NEW YORK -- Zale Corp. has tapped Robert J. DiNicola, a Federated Department Stores executive, to become its chairman and chief executive officer.DiNicola, 46, currently chairman and ceo of Federated's Seattle-based Bon Marche division, will join Zale, based in Dallas, on April 18.The appointment rounds out a new top executive team at Zale, which operates jewelry stores and leased departments, including Zales, Gordon's, Balley Banks & Biddle and Corrigan's.DiNicola succeeds Dean Groussman, who resigned last August, after the company came out of bankruptcy.Last month, Zale hired a new chief financial officer, John Belknap, a former retail consultant.In December, Larry Pollock was named president and chief operating officer. He had been with Karten's, another jewelry chain.Federated has not yet named a successor at The Bon. DiNicola could not be reached for comment on his plans for Zale."The stores need focus, improved productivity and better results store by store," said a source. For the three months ended Dec. 31, 1993, net sales were $396.5 million compared with $426.2 million for the year-ago period.Same-store sales increased 1.6 percent. Net earnings for the quarter were $41.6 million, compared with a loss of $17.8 million.The revenue decreases were due to 175 store closings during the company's reorganization under Chapter 11.Sources speculated that DiNicola will be challenged to explore emerging retail formats, such as home shopping, to augment Zale's traditional mall-based businesses.DiNicola has a strong reputation on the hard goods side of the department store business, but he also has extensive experience in apparel areas as well. DiNicola is credited with keeping The Bon on track as a leading profit-making division at Federated.He joined The Bon as president and chief operating officer in 1992 and became ceo a year later. Prior to that, he was a senior vice president at Federated's Rich's division in Atlanta.He started his career at the former Bamberger's division of R.H. Macy & Co., where he rose to senior vice president at the former Macy's New York division, over the Cellar, marketplace, tabletop and leisure areas.
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