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Zale Promotes Executives

Mary Kwan joins jeweler as chief merchant.

Mary Kwan

Zale Corp. on Tuesday hired a head merchant, promoted two executives and brought back another.

Mary Kwan, former president and chief merchant of Goody’s Family Clothing, has joined Zale as executive vice president and chief merchandising officer with responsibility for all of the Irving, Tex.-based company’s brands. She succeeds Steve Lang, former group senior vice president and chief merchandising officer, who has left the firm.

Theo Killion has been promoted to president, and Steve Larkin to executive vice president and chief marketing and e-commerce officer. Kwan, Killion and Larkin report to Neal Goldberg, who became chief executive officer in December. Goldberg had relinquished the title of president.

In addition, Alexandra Patton Sweeney, who held senior buying positions with Bailey Banks & Biddle before its acquisition by Finlay Enterprises Inc., has rejoined the company as vice president and divisional merchandise manager of diamond fashion and anniversary bands. She reports to Kwan.

The personnel changes are the most sweeping since Goldberg, former president of The Children’s Place Retail Stores, took the helm. He has overseen a plan to close 105 stores and cut 20 percent of headquarters staff. He also is pursuing a $100 million reduction in inventory.

Killion joined the firm in January as executive vice president and retains his responsibilities for human resources and legal and corporate strategy, and adds shared services. Before Zale, Killion worked at Berglass + Associates, the executive recruiting firm. He also held positions with Limited Brands Inc., Macy’s East and The Home Shopping Network.

Larkin joined Zale in 2006 as senior vice president of e-commerce and added marketing to his duties in February. The company said that, under his supervision, online sales have grown at a double-digit clip and generate $55 million in annual revenue, about 2.3 percent of its total 2007 revenues of $2.4 billion.

Before joining Goody’s, Kwan held merchandising posts at Quiksilver Inc., Levi Strauss & Co. and Lane Bryant. Goldberg said she “will be instrumental in developing more compelling assortments that highlight our good-better-best value proposition.”

After a $17.4 million loss in the third quarter ended April 30, Zale earnings for the first nine months of fiscal 2008 were down 72.8 percent to $15.7 million, or 35 cents a diluted share, including 16 cents from discontinued operations. Year-to-date revenues were down 2.4 percent to $1.68 billion as same-store sales were off 2.3 percent.