Chris Avery to retire as James Avery Artisan Jewelry CEO

James Avery Artisan Jewelry, a family-owned jewelry company based in Texas, officially announces the retirement of CEO Chris Avery. Effective today, Chief Operating Officer John McCullough will assume duties as CEO. Additionally, the company announces that Paul Zipp’s role as CFO has been expanded to include responsibilities of President and COO and Karina Dolgin has been promoted to Chief Product and Revenue Officer.

The company will remain privately held and will not explore a public stock offering or selling. Members of the Avery family continue to be integrated in day-to-day operations. Chris, who joined the family business in 1992, has been the CEO since September 2007 and will retain his position as Chairman of the Board after retirement. Lindsey Avery Tognietti, James Avery’s granddaughter and Chris’ niece, is the Manager of Strategic Initiatives, helping the company explore new growth and product opportunities.

“I have never been so confident in the future of this company. I have the utmost confidence and trust in John’s leadership skills and the way he cares for people,” says Chris. “He is surrounded by an excellent leadership team, as well as a great team of associates in all departments to enable future growth, success and maintenance of this special company culture. I’m happy that Lindsey joined the company three years ago. She is a great addition, is well thought of throughout the company and has good leadership skills. Perhaps there will be other Averys to join the business in the future.”

As the company celebrates their 65th Anniversary, Chris says they continue to be innovative and creative in their strategy. With 91 stores in five states (and several more openings planned this year), 220 Dillard’s locations and two new airport shops, James Avery is continuing to explore new store concepts, customer experience initiatives and wholesale relationships, along with consistently launching new product lines.

In the past year, James Avery introduced their Discovery Center and Store concept in San Antonio, Houston and Waco. These stores serve to test such things as enhanced customer experiences, new product lines like James Avery handbags and leather goods, and bringing back Designs from our Archives. The handbag hardware is inspired by original James Avery jewelry designs. The special-edition, out-of-retirement Designs from our Archives, made in small batches, include pieces designed by founder James Avery as well as by several of their other designers throughout the years.

Along with strategic growth, the company continues to place a premium on supporting associates and customers in the communities where they live and work. This summer, the company launched their refined charitable giving program, Forging Hope. The program is a nod to Mr. Avery who believed “giving is what it’s all about,” and focuses on supporting military and first responders, the environment, education, arts and culture, professional development and more.

“Both my mom and dad raised us to think of others – that there will always be others less fortunate than ourselves, either in real basic need or, at times, simply in need of a helping hand. They encouraged us to always give however we could. So, it’s important that the company continue to give to our associates and community,” says Chris. “Through Forging Hope, the company will carry on Dad’s legacy of giving after my retirement, and I’m proud of that.”

McCullough, who joined James Avery in 2006, is the first person outside of the Avery family to take the helm. “I am honored to be appointed as the next CEO and entrusted to lead this company through a time of extraordinary growth,” says McCullough. “I am dedicated to building on the strong foundation laid by Mr. Avery, Chris and the rest of the family.”

After his retirement, Chris is confident the culture of taking care of associates, customers and community will continue. Much of James Avery Artisan Jewelry is designed to reflect the things important and meaningful in life, and McCullough says he will maintain that standard, “Our designs are timeless, and their appeal universal – this is a commitment our team will continue to pursue after Chris retires.”

James Avery Artisan Jewelry’s culture of customer-centricity to provide exactly what customers expect is a sustainable approach to growth. Offer customized jewelry designs to your clientele with the aim to add meaning in their lives by integrating iDesigniBuy’s Jewelry Design Software to your website.