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Retail

Helzberg Diamonds’ Chairman and CEO Beryl Raff Retiring

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway’s Helzberg Diamonds has announced the retirement of Beryl Raff, the company’s chairman and CEO. Raff will continue to advise and consult the Helzberg Diamonds’ executive team as non-executive chairman of the board.

With a remarkable retail career spanning 50 years, Raff has led Helzberg Diamonds with 13 years of dedicated service and unrelenting commitment. Since 2009, she has reshaped and helped the company navigate through the most tumultuous retail economic times with calm, decisive, and strategic leadership and, most importantly, a great heart.

“I’ll never forget the day I was asked to lead Helzberg Diamonds – I couldn’t wait to get started! Fast forward 13 years, it’s been an honor to be on this incredible journey with the talented people at Helzberg, and to serve among the exceptional leaders of Berkshire Hathaway,” said Beryl Raff, chairman and CEO of Helzberg Diamonds. “Together we’ve created a business that is agile and responsive to the ever-changing retail environment. Most importantly, Helzberg Diamonds is my family. The relationships I’ve built with my teams, sales associates, and customers have enhanced my life beyond measure. I’ll miss everything about leading this amazing brand, but I’m ready to start a new chapter.”

Raff guided Helzberg Diamonds to exceed a multitude of significant performance goals. As the longest serving non-family CEO at Helzberg, she made the company relevant again in the retail landscape. A constant learner and never satisfied with the status quo, she challenged herself and every area of the business to view each day as an opportunity to do something new and different to propel the company’s success.

“I want to personally thank Beryl for her industry-leading vision and one-of-a-kind contributions to Helzberg Diamonds. She will be missed,” said Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

“When Beryl arrived in Kansas City, it wasn’t long before she called Shirley and me and asked us to re-engage with the company’s culture,” said Barnett Helzberg Jr., former chairman, CEO, and founding family member of Helzberg Diamonds. “She valued the people and brought back the heart and family-feeling culture to the company. Shirley and I are proud not only of what she has achieved but also to call her a treasured friend.”

Raff will conclude her tenure as chief executive officer on July 1, 2022. Brad Hampton, who has served as Helzberg Diamonds’ chief financial officer and executive board member for the past five years, will then take over the role of chief executive officer. Julie Yoakum will assume the role of president – chief merchandising officer, and Bruce Pryor, senior vice president – e-commerce, who has elevated Helzberg’s digital capabilities, will report to Yoakum. Mitch Maggart will assume the role of executive vice president – chief operations & real estate officer. Ellen Junger, senior vice-president – chief marketing officer, who has driven Helzberg’s customer-first marketing approach, will report to Hampton. Brad Hampton also will continue serving as CFO in the interim until a successor is selected.

“Beryl’s steadfast leadership helped position Helzberg Diamonds as an efficient and effective organization that is dedicated to meeting its customers’ needs,” said Greg Abel, vice-chairman of non-insurance operations of Berkshire Hathaway. “Helzberg’s newly formed executive leadership team has remarkable business acumen that will ensure the company continues to see success well into the future.”

In addition to serving as non-executive chair at Helzberg Diamonds, Raff will continue her service on the corporate boards of Academy Sports and Outdoors, Inc., Helen of Troy Limited and the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies.

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell a stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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Retail

Oriental Trading Company to Launch Marketplace

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway’s Oriental Trading Company, Inc., the nation’s largest direct retailer of value-priced party supplies, arts and crafts, toys, novelties, and school supplies, will expand its e-commerce presence by launching a third-party seller marketplace powered by Mirakl.

The marketplace is set to debut this summer, and Oriental Trading plans to add millions of curated products to its core product categories from selected brands and sellers.

“Oriental Trading will be the first company in the celebration, education and craft retail space to provide a marketplace of this scale to online customers,” said Steve Mendlik, President and CEO of Oriental Trading Company. “Our company’s vision is about making life more fun and that’s exactly what we’re building for our customers with this new solution. By creating this robust marketplace, customers can easily get everything they need, at the prices they want and in one place.”

“We are thrilled to play a part in helping Oriental Trading launch the first marketplace in their retail space,” said Adrien Nussenbaum, Mirakl U.S. CEO and co-founder. “As a leader in the industry, this marketplace fits perfectly into Oriental Trading’s long-term strategy, allowing them to disrupt the market and strengthen their position as a solution company by leveraging their assortments and value platforms.”

Oriental Trading currently offers over 50,000 products across categories like party supplies, events, toys and games, arts and crafts, teaching supplies, wedding, faith, and home décor.

© 2021 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell a stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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Retail

Helzberg Diamonds Partners with British Jewelry designer

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

In a move that continues the promotion of lab-grown diamonds as equivalent to mined diamonds, Berkshire Hathaway-owned Helzberg Diamonds has announced it has partnered with British designer Jenny Packham for an exclusive, colorless lab-grown diamond bridal collection – the first colorless lab-grown collection in the jewelry industry.

Known as a favorite designer of the British Royal Family and other top celebrities, Packham created her collection using rare platinum settings with colorless lab-grown diamonds.

“We are thrilled to partner with Jenny Packham to bring her unique style to Helzberg using the rare and colorless lab-grown diamonds that are at the heart of the collection’s bridal jewelry designs,” said Julie Yoakum, senior vice president and chief merchandise officer for Helzberg Diamonds, a Berkshire Hathaway company. “The Jenny Packham Collection marries her distinctive and elevated style with Helzberg Diamonds’ industry-leading quality and craftsmanship. The collection is breathtaking with bridal settings that you simply won’t find anywhere else.”

Packham’s fashion lines are known for their glamour, trend-setting styles and sparkle, making her collection a perfect fit for Helzberg Diamonds. “It is well known that I am attracted to sparkle – my dresses are designed to create excitement as they catch the light and dazzle,” said designer Jenny Packham. “So, when Helzberg asked me to design a collection of beautiful and colorless lab-grown diamond engagement rings and wedding bands, of course I said, ‘Yes!’ My new jewelry designs, created from these incredible and colorless lab-grown diamonds, are inspired by my love of the legendary stars of the Silver Screen, the ethereal icons of the 1930s, their timeless glamour, and yet the rings look so effortlessly modern.”

“Most couples are on a wedding budget. We’ve seen a large increase in customers asking for lab-grown diamonds as you can often get a larger stone for less money,” Yoakum continued. “For those who are uncertain of lab-grown diamonds, consider this analogy: there are roses that grow in the ground and roses that grow in a greenhouse. Both are beautiful and have similar qualities, they are just grown in different ways. The same is true for lab-grown diamonds. Some diamonds are grown in the ground while others are grown in a lab. We hold our lab-grown diamonds to the same high-quality standards as our natural diamonds.”

© 2021 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Categories
Retail

Ben Bridge Jeweler Appoints New President

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Ben Bridge Jeweler, a family-run fine jeweler with over 90 retail stores in 11 states and one province, has announced that Co-CEO and General Counsel Jonathan (Jon) Bridge is retiring, and current President and Co-CEO, Edward (Ed) Bridge will become Chairman and CEO.

Lisa Bridge C.G., the company’s Vice President of Education and the creator of the Lisa Bridge Collection, has been appointed as the company’s President and Chief Operating Officer.

Lisa will be the company’s first female President and its youngest top executive in over 60 years. “I love the relationships that are built over a beautiful piece of fine jewelry and I am eager to provide amazing experiences for each of our customers.”

“Ben Bridge has been a part of Berkshire Hathaway for 17 years and Lisa represents a wonderful balance of continuity and evolution,” says Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffett. “With the challenges facing retailing, I am excited to have someone passionate for the jewelry business, with creative ideas, and an understanding of today’s consumer at the helm. Lisa has retailing in her blood and I am excited for the future with Lisa as President.”

“I am pleased and excited about passing the torch of leadership to the next generation of our family,” says Jon Bridge. “Lisa has been a critical part of Ben Bridge for years and will continue the tradition of service to our customers and communities that we have built over the last century while evolving the business to grow in the digital age. Her knowledge of the business and insight as a member of the next generation will greatly expand opportunities for our company.”

Lisa Bridge, a fifth generation jeweler, is a Certified Gemologist and jewelry designer who launched her own namesake collection in 2015, a compilation of bold and fashionable jewelry inspired by the natural beauty she has encountered in her many travels. Lisa also spent the last seven years as Vice President of Education, overseeing the education and professional development of the company’s 1,200 associates. As President, Lisa will oversee merchandising, operations, marketing, sales, and human resources as she continues to evolve the business.

© 2017 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.