Birks Group Slashes Florida Staff Amid Mixed Financials

As a result of a restructuring, Birks Group is cutting most of the workforce in its Tamarac, Fla., office, after announcing soaring sales but flagging financials. 

Most of the work done by the 80-employee regional office is being transferred to its Montreal corporate headquarters, the company said.

“Some employees will be staying, as we are keeping a small retail support office and will also have a number of employees relocating to Montreal,” says spokesperson Eva Hartling. “We are in the process of having these discussions with our employees and do not have a final number yet.”

The transition will take place between January and March 2015, she says. The move is part of a restructuring the company began in July. 

Elsewhere, the company’s news was mixed. In the first fiscal quarter of 2015, same-store sales increased an impressive 16 percent compared to the first quarter of 2014, with U.S comps jumping 21 percent and Canadian comps rising 11 percent. Overall sales for the quarter increased 5.9 percent to $74.2 million.

The growth in U.S. comps was driven by higher average sales as well as the company’s renewed focus on timepieces. Remodeled stores also delivered better sales. In Canada, the better sales were led by higher sales of Birks brand jewelry and new watch brands.

For fiscal 2014, results were more mixed. Comparable-store sales increased by 4 percent (6 percent in the U.S.; 2 percent in Canada), while net sales declined $11.6 million from the prior year to hit $281.2 million. Sales were hurt by the closure of 10 stores and the weak Canadian dollar, the company said. 

It also realized a $5.8 million loss for fiscal 2014, compared to a $1.5 million profit the year before. In a statement, president and CEO Jean-Christophe Bédos blamed the loss on increased investments in store openings, remodels, marketing, and its website, as well as lower-than-expected holiday sales.

JCK News Director