By Michelle Graff
Akron, Ohio--Signet Jewelers Ltd., the largest specialty jeweler in the world, has given its CEO a long-term contract, a recent 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows.

Mike Barnes’ initial employment agreement with Signet was for a fixed term of three years, and expired on Jan. 31. This new contract is “evergreen,” meaning it has no expiration date, and is effective as of Feb. 1.

Barnes will remain the CEO of Signet until either side decides it’s time for them to part ways.

“The Signet board felt the new contract should extend that period, as well as take a simpler approach going forward by making it essentially evergreen, subject to the normal termination clauses executable by either party seen in the agreement,” a company spokesman said.

The former president of Richardson, Texas-based accessories company Fossil, Barnes joined Signet as CEO-designate in December 2010 after 25 years with Fossil. He worked alongside outgoing CEO Terry Burman, officially becoming CEO on Jan. 30, 2011.

RELATED CONTENT: Signet taps Fossil exec as new CEO

According to the filing, Barnes’ annual base salary is $1.054 million. He is eligible for up to $2.7 million a year in bonuses, meaning he could make as much as $3.8 million a year.

Signet is the parent company of Akron-based Sterling Jewelers Inc., which operates Kay Jewelers, Jared the Galleria of Jewelry and a number of regional chains in the United States.

During Barnes’ time as CEO, sales have climbed, the company has completed one major acquisition and, in January, activist investor Corvex Management LP snapped up a nearly 8 percent stake in the jewelry company, calling its shares “undervalued” in an SEC filing.

In fiscal year 2012, Barnes’ first full year as CEO, Signet’s same-store and total sales were up 9 percent year-over-year to $3.75 billion. Same-store sales in the U.S. rose 11 percent while sales in the U.K. were up less than 1 percent.

The following year, Signet’s same-store sales were up 3 percent while total sales climbed 6 percent to $3.98 billion. U.S. same-store sales increased 4 percent while U.K. comps remained relatively weak, growing only 0.3 percent.

Signet acquired Ultra Stores Inc. in 2012 for $57 million in cash. Ultra operated Ultra Diamonds outlet stores and the licensed jewelry departments in Burlington Coat Factory stores. Upon acquiring the chain, Signet began the process of converting Ultra Diamonds into Kay Outlet stores, stating that it wanted to be a larger player in the outlet store business.

RELATED CONTENT: Sterling completes $57M Ultra acquisition

The company is set to report its results for the current fiscal year on March 27.

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