The Center for Retailing Studies at Mays will host the M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture Series on Wednesday, April 4, featuring Theo Killion, chief executive officer at Zale Corporation, as the keynote speaker. Prior to his lecture, Killion will be presented with the 2012 Visionary Merchant award for leading the company’s turnaround plan and returning Zales to historic levels of profitability. He will speak on Zale’s strategy and its commitment to providing outstanding products, service and value to the customers of the Zale Corporation brands: Zales Jewelers, Gordon’s Jewelers, Zales Outlet, Piercing Pagoda, and Peoples and Mappins Jewelers in Canada.

Theo Killion

Killion has a long, distinguished career in retailing and, unlike many CEOs, it includes extensive experience in human resources. Prior to joining Zale Corporation, Killion was with the executive recruiting firm Berglass+Associates, where he focused on companies in the retail, consumer goods and fashion industries. He has held leadership roles in human resources strategies at Tommy Hilfiger Corporation, The Limited Inc. and the Home Shopping Network.

The award presentation and lecture are open to the public and will be held in Ray Auditorium (113 Wehner) at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The Visionary Merchant Lecture concludes an invitation-only conference for retail executives, the center’s annual Retail Sponsor Forum. Speakers for the one-day event include Mays faculty members and industry experts. They will address topics critical to business leaders including trends in creating unique marketing campaigns, managing workplace violence and customer buying behavior.

“This year’s award is especially meaningful to our organization,” says Cheryl Holland Bridges, director of the Center for Retailing Studies. “Thirty years ago, M.B. Zale, the founder of Zales, gave Texas A&M a grant to establish the Center for Retailing Studies. Donald Zale, M.B.’s son, will present the award to Killion, an extremely talented CEO who exemplifies the M.B. Zale’s success as an innovative merchant.”

More than 450 students, faculty and guests are expected to attend the April 4 lecture series.

For more information about these events or the Center for Retailing Studies, see or contact Kelli Hollinger at