Zale Corporation (NYSE: ZLC) is, through its wholly owned subsidiaries, a leading specialty retailer of fine jewelry in North America. As of July 31, 2008, Zale operated 1,396 specialty retail jewelry stores and 739 kiosks located mainly in shopping malls throughout the United States of America, Canada and Puerto Rico. The Zale Corporation was incorporated in Delaware in 1993. The principal executive offices are located in Irving, Texas.
The company began in 1924 in Wichita Falls, Texas, 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 1986, 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.
In 2008 105 locations closed (12% of total). More closings are expected in 2009.