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Zale taps rival's ex-CEO as chairman, same-store sales edge up

(Reuters) - Zale Corp on Wednesday reported a modest bump in third-quarter same-store sales and said the former chief executive of its biggest rival, Kay Jewelers parent Signet Jewelers Ltd , will be its new chairman.

Terry Burman, who was Signet's CEO from 2000 to 2011 and oversaw large U.S. market share gains that came partly at Zale's expense, will take up the post next Friday, Zale said.

Zale, which three years ago faced sharply declining sales and narrowly averted a cash shortage, reported that sales at stores open at least a year rose 1.4 percent in the quarter that ended April 30.

It was the company's tenth straight quarter of same-store sales gains and compares with an 8 percent jump a year earlier.

Overall revenue slid 0.6 percent to $442.7 million.

Same-store sales at its Zales and Zales Outlets stores, by far its biggest chains, rose 3 percent. In Canada, where it operates Peoples Jewellers, same-store sales were down 0.9 percent. Excluding the impact of currency, they rose 1 percent.

Zale also operates the mall-based Piercing Pagoda kiosks and Gordon's Jewelers.

Signet Jewelers will report its quarterly results on Thursday.

Zale reported net income of $5.1 million, or 13 cents per share, compared with a loss of $4.5 million, or 14 cents per share a year earlier.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)

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