Signet Posts 19.8% Half-Year Gain

The Signet Group, the world’s second-largest retail jeweler and parent of Sterling Inc. in the United States, posted a 19.8% increase in group sales to about $898.3 million and a 1.7% gain in comparable store sales for its half-year (ended July 28).

Headquartered in London, Signet operates 1,606 retail jewelry stores, including 599 in the United Kingdom (under the names H. Samuel, Ernest Jones, and Leslie Davis) and 1,007 in the United States through its Sterling Inc. Division (under the names Kay Jewelers, Jared-The Galleria of Jewelry superstores, and a number of regional chains.

Sterling, based in Akron, Ohio, is the second-largest U.S. jewelry retailer. The Sterling division rang up $660.2 million (three-fourths of Signet’s revenues) for the half-year, a 24.1% gain over the previous fiscal year. However, comparable store sales (i.e., sales from stores in operation at least a year) were down 1.3%. The British segment posted sales of about $238.1 million, a 9.2% gain. Same-store sales were up 10%.

For the second quarter alone, group sales increased 16.7% to about $452.6 million, while same-store sales barely moved, at 0.1%. Sterling’s second-quarter revenues tallied $329.2 million, a 20.2% gain, but same-store sales were down 3.4%, continuing a trend that began toward the end of the first quarter because of what Signet officials call “challenging economic conditions” in the United States. The British stores posted about $123.4 million, a 9.2% increase; same-store sales rose 9.3%

“The first half clearly highlights the inherent strength of Signet’s geographic balance,” says Terry Burman, Signet’s chief executive and chairman of Sterling.