Signet Jewelers on Monday announced the appointment of Virginia Drosos, who has been an independent director on the company’s board since 2012, as the new CEO, effective Aug. 1.
Mark Light served as CEO since 2014 and will retire after more than 35 years with the company due to health reasons, according to a company press release.
Drosos has more than 29 years of executive experience in the beauty and consumer goods industries, previously serving as president-CEO of Assurex Health and as a group president of global beauty care at Procter & Gamble.
With the arrival of Drosos, not much will change at Signet, which became the world’s largest retail jewelry company with its $1.46 billion acquisition of Zale in 2014, Cowen & Co. analysts said in an email, noting that she will be “a solid fit for the CEO role.” Drosos has been on the company’s board for close to five years and a successor plan has been in place for some time.
“Ms. Drosos is already very familiar with Signet's story and the company's strategies, having served as an independent director of the company's board since 2012,” according to a note emailed to Retail Dive. “[W]e believe Signet should benefit from leveraging Ms. Drosos' diverse background and expertise in developing and executing strategies around operations, digital marketing, sales and innovation for global businesses and broad brand portfolios — most notably her 25-year tenure at P&G. [W]e especially like Ms. Drosos' brand management experiences and proven ability to navigate businesses amid a rapidly changing consumer environment.”
In his statement Thursday, Chairman Todd Stitzer said the board has full confidence in Drosos' ability to “drive Signet forward in its next phase of growth and value creation.”
“Gina’s experience brings a unique combination of demonstrated brand building, given her strong background in beauty, along with the creativity, flexibility and boldness of an entrepreneurial mindset,” he said. “She also possesses a strong financial background, having managed multibillion dollar P&Ls through phases of high growth, while delivering cost reductions and operational efficiencies.”
Cowen analysts also praised her efforts in “tackling e-commerce disruption as well as heightened competition from emerging smaller, niche brands in the mass beauty market while leading the modernization and reinvention of the Olay brand at P&G.”
Earlier this year, the company announced the addition of a “respect in the workforce” committee to its board and hired an independent consultant to review its workplace culture, following media reports that cited hundreds of former Sterling Jewelers employees alleging the company fostered a culture of sexual harassment and discrimination. A case starting with 15 women in 2008 has since grown into a 69,000 class-action suit, with sworn statements released this week. Signet has dismissed the claims as “distorted and inaccurate.”
The jewelry company, which also owns Kay Jewelers, in March also announced that it would shutter between 165 and 170 stores in fiscal 2018, targeting underperforming mall-based regional brands. The company will add 90 to 115 stores, consisting primarily of new Kay off-mall stores. For fourth quarter fiscal 2017, the company reported that same-store sales declined 4.5% and for the fiscal year, same-store sales fell 1.9%.