Shares of Signet Jewelers Ltd. pulled back 3.3 percent Tuesday after chief executive officer Michael Barnes unexpectedly resigned and passed the mantle of leadership to Mark Light, currently president and chief operating officer. The changes take effect Oct. 31.
The company said that Barnes will return to the Dallas area from Signet’s Hamilton, Bermuda, headquarters to be closer to his family and pursue professional opportunities in the area.
Perhaps best known as the architect of Signet’s $1.46 billion acquisition of Zale Corp., Barnes spent 25 years with Richardson, Tex.-based Fossil Group Inc., most recently as president and chief operating officer, before joining Signet as ceo in early 2011.
Light, a 36-year veteran of the Signet organization, was promoted to president and chief operating officer of the company upon consummation of the Zale acquisition in late May. He was earlier ceo of Signet’s U.S. division, which included Kay Jewelers and Jared The Galleria of Jewelry. U.S. operations now include the former Zale nameplates Zales, Gordon’s and Piercing Pagoda.
The combination of Signet and Zale created a $6.2 billion jewelry powerhouse with more than 3,500 stores in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Upon closing the deal, Signet expressed confidence that it could achieve ambitious synergy targets, sentiments reiterated by Light on Tuesday.
“I am extremely pleased with the progress we are making integrating the Zale division, and I remain confident that we will achieve our three-year synergy expectations of $150 million to $175 million,” Light said.
In a research note discussing the change, Nomura Securities analyst Simeon Siegel said he expects the synergy targets “will still prove conservative.”
Siegel maintained his “buy” rating on the stock, calling it “one of the more compelling long-term retail stores.” He also advised clients to take advantage of the sell-off in the stock following the news.