is the second largest specialty retailer
of fine jewelry
in North America
, operating 2,203 retail locations, (which includes both kiosks/carts and stores) throughout the United States
, and Puerto Rico
as of October 31 2007.
The company began in 1924
in Wichita Falls
, when Morris (M.B.) Zale, William Zale, and Ben Lipshy opened the first Zales Jewelers store. At the time, credit
plans were not common, so their concept of offering one was fairly revolutionary, marketed under the slogan, "a penny down and a dollar a week." By the beginning of World War II
, the company had expanded to a dozen stores throughout Texas and Oklahoma
During the lean war years, Zales maintained its prices and looked for expansion opportunities. In 1944, Corrigan's of Dallas was acquired, a finer jewelry purchase that eventually launched the Bailey Banks & Biddle brand.
The year 1957 was marked both by Zales' first entry into a shopping center (rather than stand-alone downtown locations), and the company's listing on the American Stock Exchange.
In 1984, the company was bought out by a Canadian and Austrian consortium, and in 1989, the entity bought Gordon's Jewelers.
Zale Corp. is now a public company trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Zale used to operate leased fine jewellery departments (in department stores) known as Diamond Park Fine Jewelers, but sold off the chain to Finlay Enterprises in 1997.
In fiscal year 2006 Zale Corporation tested a repair store concept, branded as Master Jewelry Repair. The concept was deemed a failure and all three test stores were closed in 2006.
Zale closed all 86 Peoples II kiosk and cart locations in Canada in 2007. The concept was meant to be the Canadian version of Piercing Pagoda, but ultimately failed.
In the first quarter of fiscal year 2008 Zale Corporation sold the Bailey Banks & Biddle upscale jewelry chain (including one store operating as "Zell Bros.") to Finlay Enterprises.
Zale Corporation is comprised of several different business units:
- Zales Jewelers: The flagship brand and main focus of the company, targeted at a middle income customer. Their main competition in the United States is Kay Jewelers. Zales slogan is "The Diamond Store". As of October 31 2007 there were 796 Zales Jewelers stores.
- Zales Outlet: The outlet version of Zales that carries a large amount of clearance merchandise. Some locations are not in malls. As of October 31 2007 there were 137 Zales Outlet locations.
- Gordon's Jewelers: The company's regional chain that historically focused on a slightly higher market than Zales. Gordon's also focuses more on the bridal and fine watch markets compared to Zales. The current slogan is "Celebrating Relationships". Recently Gordon's has started to carry many of the same jewelry collections as Zales. There were 282 Gordon's Jewelers locations as of October 31 2007.
- Piercing Pagoda: A kiosk chain that focuses on lower-end merchandise such as 10K gold and sterling silver chains, charms, and bracelets. Cubic zirconia jewelry is also a featured offering. Their business is driven through ear piercing. Some locations have different nameplates, such as "Piercing Pagoda Plus", "Piercing Pagoda Too", "Totally Pagoda", "Plumb Gold", or "Silver & Gold Connection". There were 792 Piercing Pagoda locations as of October 31 2007.
- Peoples Jewellers: The Canadian version of Zales. They are differentiated by having exclusive diamonds, some of which are mined in Canada. Like Zales in the US, Peoples is known in Canada as "The Diamond Store". There were 196 Peoples locations (including Mappins locations in that number).
- Mappins Jewellers: A Canadian version of Gordon's. Historically targets a higher-end market than Peoples. Many of their collections are similar to Peoples. Mappins was originally part of British jewelry chain "Mappin and Webb".
- Zalecorp also operates two Internet-based enterprises--Zales.com and Gordonsjewelers.com, --through a partnership with GSI Commerce.