Oh Kay! Industry’s Biggest Brand Sees 7 Percent Comp Jump, Opens 42 New Stores

Signet is also readying more Zales, Piercing Pagodas, and off-mall Kays

Every lift begins with Kay.

Signet Jewelers’ leading brand posted a whopping 7.4 percent comp increase over the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016 and contributed to its parent company’s impressive 4.9 percent comp jump for the period (ended Jan. 30). The company also opened 42 new Kay stores over the past year, the largest number of any Signet brand. With seven closures, the chain now numbers 1,129 stores, with the nameplate now increasingly setting up shop in off-mall locations.

In a conference call with analysts following the release of its financial results, Signet CEO Mark Light said many of Signet’s core brands will expand, with plans to open more Zales, Jareds, and Piercing Pagodas. 

The Zales Jewelers brand also did well, with comps rising 4.7 percent. Sales at Piercing Pagoda leaped 6.4 percent.

On the downside, some of the other Zale divisions seemed to struggle. Sales at Zales Canada fell 0.8 percent, and comps at 59-store Gordon’s Jewelers—considered a legacy brand, like Signet’s regional nameplates—dropped 7.5 percent.

Company-wide e-commerce sales jumped 11.2 percent to $166.3 million. U.K. nameplate Ernest Jones came in strong, with a 6.6 percent comp jump.

Jared saw a 1.4 percent comp rise, opened 16 new stores over the year and had one closure, for a net total of 270.

“if you look at Jared for the year, Jared actually captured profitable market share compared to the overarching jewelry industry,” Light said. “The majority of jewelry customers are outside the mall. So, to compare Jared and Kay and Zales is just not really a fair comparative.”

 Signet’s regional nameplates recorded a 1.8 percent dip.

Driving sales were the company’s proprietary brands, including the Ever Us two-stone ring, earrings, bracelets, Vera Wang Love, Neil Lane, Tolkowsky, and—a newcomer to Signet’s standard litany—Perfect Fit, a bridal line being sold at H. Samuel.

Light said the company is testing extensions to the Ever Us concept, including earrings, bracelets, and different ring styles. He also talked up a new Jared diamond concept called Chosen By Jared, that lets consumers track their diamonds from the mine to the cutting factory to their hands. Vera Wang is also coming to Jared stores, and he hoped the new Pandora shop-in-shops would increase store traffic at Jared.

Signet’s annual sales totaled $6.55 billion, a 14.2 percent increase over last year. Its full financial statement can be seen here.

JCK News Director