Signet posts 8.4% first-half sales gain

The Signet Group plc, said total group sales for its fiscal half-year (ending Aug. 3) rose 8.4% percent to ?682.1 million ($1.04 billion). Of that, 73.1% came from Sterling Inc., the U.S. division of the London-based company and the second largest retail jeweler in the United States. Sterling’s sales alone ($763.1 million) were up 7.8%. The rest of Signet’s total sales for the half-year came from its stores in the United Kingdom. Comparable store sales for the group increased 7%.

For the second quarter, sales increased 3.4% to ?328.1 million ($501.6 million). Comparable store sales increased 7.1%. U.S comparable store sales, alone, increased 6.8% in the second quarter thanks to “a positive response to marketing activity in the early part of the quarter,” said Signet Group chief executive Terry Burman. “While marketing activity in the latter part of the quarter was at a lower level, sales remained encouraging and the business continued to outperform its main competition and gain market share.”

“The U.K. division again performed strongly,” he added, “with [second quarter] like for like sales up by 7.9%, although a slight moderation in the pace of growth was evident in the last two months.”

The full half-year results will be announced by Signet on Sept. 4.

Signet operated 1,643 specialty jewelry stores as of Aug. 3, including 1,037 in the United States (under the names Kay Jewelers, Jared The Galleria of Jewelry and various regional names) and 606 in the United Kingdom (under the names H. Samuel, Ernest Jones and Leslie Davis).