Transitions of power are always a challenge. And the stakes are raised for entities with strong track records.
Sterling, parent of Kay and Jared, has proven itself across recent market cycles to be among the very best-run chain jewelers in the business. Under the deft leadership of Terry Burman, the company forged a reputation for maximizing its potential market advantages. Burman, a former naval officer, was especially successful at running a tight ship regarding operational efficiency.
It's now been just over a year since Michael Barnes, formerly president and COO of Fossil, took the helm following Burman's retirement. The natural question has been how he would choose to steer the company--culturally as well as strategically.
It has become readily apparent that Barnes has his own ideas of how Sterling might further shine. The company, for instance, has launched a determined agenda that includes intensified focus on the online channel, an admittedly underdeveloped program at Sterling. This was a smart move.
Yesterday's announcement of the promotion of Ed Hrabak to COO, pending the retirement of Bill Montalto, was yet another indication of good decision-making. Hrabak has a quarter-century in at the company, moving up the buying ranks to this new, top role. Over that time, he has become one of the company's most visible executives, participating in significant industry charitable and educational initiatives in addition to executing his role within the core Sterling executive ranks.
Along with President and CEO Mark Light, Hrabak will now continue to provide continuity that goes hand-in-glove with expanding Sterling in new directions. And as the nation's high-volume jewelers become increasingly important in areas such as consumer demand stimulation, that's a good thing for all of us. Along with the greater industry, National Jeweler congratulates him and wishes him the best in his new job.