Service Merchandise Announces Further Cost-Cutting to Meet Goals

January 11, 2001

Service Merchandise Announces Further Cost-Cutting to Meet Goals

Service Merchandise, Nashville, TN, announced yesterday it's eliminating 1,750 full-time employees, further consolidating its field structure and paring down the space at its headquarters. The company is also reconfiguring its jewelry repair organization. All of these actions, the company believes, will reduce expenses and help it exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a timely fashion.

As part of the consolidation of the company's headquarters and elimination of executive positions, Charles Septer, president and chief operating officer, and Rose Septer, senior vice president of jewelry, have left the company to pursue other opportunities. Jana Pistole, assistant vice president of diamonds and gemstones, will assume interim responsibility for jewelry merchandising while the company searches for a chief jewelry merchant, the job formerly handled by Rose Septer. The company has not said whether Charles Septer's position has been eliminated or will be filled at a later date.

The initiatives announced yesterday should save Service Merchandise $35 million in 2001. That's in addition to the $18 million in savings for 2001 the company announced in March 2000. The company also will reduce its bankruptcy-related expenses for 2001 by at least 25% over last year.

Service Merchandise reported its financial results for 2000 fell short of plan, but results were up from 1999. "In many respects, we are pleased with what we accomplished in 2000, having initiated an aggressive remerchandising plan, a subleasing plan and a remodeling plan – all of which were directed at expanding the company's focus on its core competency of fine jewelry and gift items, in addition to home, health and personal care products," says CEO Sam Cusano. The company plans to announce final 2000 financial results next month.

- by Julia M. Duncan