ULTRA Diamonds

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ULTRA Diamonds
Industry retail
Fate Defunct
Founded 1991 (Gurnee, Illinois)
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois
Key people
Daniel H Marks (President & CEO)
Products jewelry
Revenue $140 million USD(Last reported, February 2011)[1]
Total assets $50 million (July 2009)
Number of employees
1,500 (July 2009)
Website www.ultradiamonds.com

ULTRA Diamonds was the largest seller of fine jewelry in factory outlet and value centers in the United States. ULTRA was a manufacturer as well as a direct importer of diamonds, gemstones, and gold jewelry. At one point, Ultra operated over 100 stores in outlet centers and 38 other format locations (primarily licensed jewelry departments).[2] After its acquisition by Signet Jewelers, ULTRA Diamonds stores were re-branded as Kay Jewelers.

History[edit]

ULTRA opened its first store in August 1991 in Gurnee, Illinois. Daniel H. Marks, founder, president, and CEO is a third generation jeweler. Prior to founding ULTRA, he was a principal with Marks Brothers Jewelers (parent company of the Whitehall and Lundstrom jewelry chains).[3] Marks' retail philosophy was to offer "off-market" pricing with a lowered profit margins than what had been traditional in the industry.

Bankruptcy[edit]

Though market share grew from 1991 through 2006, in 2009 ULTRA filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11.[4] Marks cited in the bankruptcy report a "weak retail climate and a lack of liquidity" for the filing. The report was backed with the fiscal year-end report for 2008 (published in February 2009) showing a sales decrease of 10.8%, with an 18.9% sales decrease over the critical holiday sales period.[5]

In 2009 ULTRA emerged from the months long bankruptcy with a strengthened capital base. This was accomplished when Bank of America provided a $30 million line of credit and Crystal Financial, LLC. assumed 56% ownership of Ultra in exchange for the conversion of half of the company's debt into equity. Ultra's unsecured creditors held an 18% ownership share in the jewelry chain, plus a $3 million note. The upper management team also took salary cuts while assuming a 26% ownership interest.[6] ULTRA closed 30 "under performing locations" during the bankruptcy and continued operations at 178 locations.[7]

Acquisition[edit]

On October 24, 2012, Signet Jewelers announced that it had signed an agreement to acquire Ultra Stores from Crystal Financial, LLC. and its other stockholders, for approximately $57 million in cash. Signet did not assume any debt in connection with the acquisition.[8] The acquisition was completed on November 2, 2012. Signet converted most of Ultra’s stores to Kay Jewelers Outlets.[9]

References[edit]