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Monday, July 17, 2017

Embattled Signet Jewelers CEO, Mark Light, Resigns Due To ‘Health Reasons’

Signet Jewelers new CEO, Virginia “Gina” C. Drosos

Signet Jewelers Ltd., the world’s largest retailer of diamond jewelry, has named Virginia “Gina” C. Drosos as its new CEO, effective August 1. She will replace Mark Light, who served as CEO since October 2014. 

Light, who has been an executive at Signet for more than 35 years, is retiring due to “health reasons,” according to a company statement. 

Light has been struggling with allegations that stem from a class-action arbitration case dating back to 2008, alleging years of systemic, mass sexual harassment; and gender discrimination in pay and promotion. The case, which has now grown to 69,000 employees with these allegations dating back to the 1990s, was made public in February in a long, detailed Washington Post story that included interviews with some of the victims. 

Light was identified in the story, which reads in part: “Multiple witnesses told attorneys that they saw Light ‘being entertained’ as he watched and joined nude and partially undressed female employees in a swimming pool, according to the 2013 memorandum.”

The company denied the allegations at the time calling the Post story and subsequent press stories that followed, “distorted and inaccurate.” It reads in part: “(The) arbitration claim was brought against Sterling in 2008 that alleged gender discrimination in pay and promotion. None of the 69,000 class members have brought legal claims in this arbitration for sexual harassment or sexual impropriety. Since its filing, it has never included legal claims of sexual harassment or hostile work environment discrimination.”

At the time Light was head of Signet’s largest U.S. division, Sterling Jewelers, which includes the jewelry chain stores, Kay, Jared The Galleria of Jewelry and regional brands. This division currently makes up approximately 58 percent of Signet’s total sales.

“Given the company’s positive direction and my need to address some health issues, the board and I agreed that it is a good time for a transition,” Light said in a statement.

Drosos, a former beauty and consumer goods executive, has served as an independent director of the company’s board since 2012. She has nearly 30 years of executive leadership experience and previously served as president & CEO of Assurex Health and as a group president of Global Beauty Care at The Procter & Gamble Company. 

“She is a visionary and transformational leader with a proven track record of growing and scaling global businesses through winning strategies and innovation,” Stitzer said. “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. 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. As a member of the board since 2012, she is deeply familiar with Signet’s strategic vision.”

Drosos joined Signet’s Board of Directors in 2012, serving on the Compensation and Nomination and Corporate Governance committees. She is a member of the Board’s Customer Experience sub-committee focused on “OmniChannel” strategy and winning in fashion jewelry, as well as the board’s “Respect in the Workforce” committee focused on programs and policies to support the advancement and development of employees. 

Signet operates approximately 3,600 stores in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., primarily under the name brands of Kay Jewelers, Zales, Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry, H.Samuel, Ernest Jones, Peoples and Piercing Pagoda. 

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