November 9, 2011, 3:46 PM

Blue Nile hangs out the “help wanted” sign for a CEO

Vijay Talwar takes over on an interim basis from Diane Irvine, who is leaving.

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Online jeweler Blue Nile Inc. is putting out the “help wanted” sign for a new permanent CEO.

At the same time Blue Nile, No. 60 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, released its third quarter earnings this morning, the company also announced that CEO Diane Irvine was leaving the company on Nov. 11.

Irvine, who took over as CEO from founder and chairman Mark Vadon in February 2008, will be replaced on an interim basis by senior vice president and general manager of international Vijay Talwar.

 

 

 

The online jewelry retailer didn’t immediately say why Irvine, who joined Blue Nile in 1999 as chief financial officer and who earned total compensation of $1.7 million in 2010, was leaving.

But the hunt for a new CEO is underway, the company says. “Vadon will take an active role in the leadership of the company, working closely with Talwar,” says Blue Nile. “With the support of the board, Vadon will also lead the search for a permanent CEO.”

Talwar joined Blue Nile in August 2010 as its chief international executive and also served as chief financial officer. Talwar also had worked for Nike Inc. where he held a number of executive leadership positions, including chief operating officer for Nike’s Central Europe, Middle East and Africa region and as senior director of strategy and finance for Nike global apparel.

Despite the change in executive leadership, Blue Nile Inc. posted a respectable gain in web sales in the third quarter, but it was international sales that grew the fastest.

For the third quarter ended Oct. 2, Blue Nile reported:

• Total sales increased 11.1% to $75.0 million from $67.5 million in the second quarter of 2010.

•International sales grew 54% to $14.4 million from $9.3 million.

• Net income decreased year-over-year to $1.9 million from $2.8 million, a 32.1% drop.

“Our record third quarter sales exceeded the high end of our guidance and was driven by solid growth in our engagement and non-engagement businesses,” says Talwar. “We also continue to experience exceptional growth in our international business, validating the value proposition we have for our consumers abroad.”

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