5 Things I Learned From Zale’s and Signet’s Investor Presentations

This week Zale and Signet gave presentations to investors on the same day, at the same conference. Here are some highlights from both presentations.

1. Zale plans to close 70 to 75 stores in fiscal 2014.

“The majority of closures will be in our regional brands, Gordon’s and Mappins and in [Piercing] Pagoda,” said chief financial officer Thomas A. Haubenstricker, particularly where the company has two stores in the same mall. 

Signet, on the other hand, is talking about store openings. Kay has 949 stores; that could expand to 1,300 to 1,400 long-term, with the best opportunities in power centers and outlet malls. Jared just opened its 200th store; Signet thinks it can grow the chain to between 250 and 300 locations. 

2. Expect more brands—a lot more.

Proprietary brands now amount to 11 percent of Zale’s revenue, up from 8 percent last year. Zale eventually hopes to grow that to “20 percent plus.” 

Meanwhile, they account for 27 percent of Signet’s revenue, and that number looks likely to leap as well. 

“We are still in the early stages of building a powerful portfolio [of brands],” said CEO Michael Barnes. “Consumers want a reason to buy and desire innovation, newness, and products that make a statement.”

Both companies have talked up their latest offerings: Zale is high on its new The Heart Within collection, while the latest extension of Signet’s Jane Seymour line, Open Hearts Waves, has “found great success,” Barnes said. 

3. Signet wants to be best in bridal.

Signet currently claims about 15 percent of the bridal market in the United States. But that’s not enough.

“There is more we can do to attain a great share of that market,” Barnes said. “We will make sure every customer thinks of our stores first when they think about their bridal purchase. We will be that destination.”

4. Signet wants to be best in digital, too.

On top of refreshes for its Kay and Jared websites, mobile apps for both brands, and a heavy presence on social media, the company has opened a new online information resource, Jewelrywise.com, for consumers who “want to know more about jewelry in a more objective, softer-sell type of environment,” Barnes said. 

5. Signet knows who its customers are.

Kay’s target shoppers have a household income of $35,000 to $100,000; Jared’s core customers’ income is $50,000 to $100,000.  

Signet also now has a mission statement: It means to give its customers a way to “celebrate life and express love.”  

JCK News Director