Sebastian “Seb” Hobbs (pictured), who served as president and chief commercial officer of Signet Jewelers for two years until he stepped down in April, will return to London to become interim managing director of Signet’s United Kingdom operation, according to an email from Hobbs obtained by JCK.
Hobbs will serve in that role until June 30, when, as previously announced, he will leave the company, says Signet spokesman David Bouffard.
Recruitment for his successor is under way, according to the email.
Hobbs is replacing Emma Hayward, who has served as executive director of Signet’s U.K. business since 2017. When Hayward first moved into that role, she replaced Hobbs, who was then moving to Signet’s Akron, Ohio, headquarters to take on the role of president.
As part of this (latest) reshuffle, Signet is eliminating the position of executive director of its U.K. division and reintroducing the position of managing director. That position will “have full accountability for our U.K. operations,” according to the email.
Bouffard says the two positions are “essentially similar.”
Said Hobbs’ email: “All of [Hayward’s] director reports in buying and merchandising, quality assurance, e-commerce, marketing, people, store operations, and customer care will report to me. Please join me in thanking Emma for her dedicated service to our team members and customers, and her many contributions during more than a decade with our company.”
In its latest quarterly results, Signet said that comps at its U.K. division declined 7.1 percent. In its 2019 fiscal year, which ended in February, U.K. same-store sales declined 5.2 percent.
Signet’s two U.K. banners are H.Samuel, which, with 288 stores, is the country’s largest jewelry chain by number of stores, as well as Ernest Jones, which numbers 198 stores and is more upscale. The U.K. division comprises a little less than 10 percent of Signet’s annual sales.
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