Signet to Open First James Allen Concept Store

Signet will open a new James Allen concept store in Washington, D.C., this fall, CEO Gina Drosos told analysts during an earnings call, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha.

“This store opens preholiday and will feature advances in digital technology and a millennial-inspired shopping experience,” she said during the Aug. 30 call, which followed the release of its second-quarter financial results.

She didn’t offer further details, but Loopnet indicates the new store will occupy a space near M Street and Wisconsin Avenue in the Georgetown area.

The company also announced the departure of chief financial officer Michele Santana, who first joined the company in 2010 as senior vice president and controller. She was promoted to CFO in 2014.

Santana, who is leaving to “pursue new opportunities,” will remain CFO until her successor is appointed, Drosos said.

Drosos also told analysts:

– Gold chains have been trending and, in particular, heavier chains. The bridal solitaire category remains strong, and Signet has been stocking up on distinctive diamond shapes, in particular: emeralds, pears, and marquises. “These are things that make rings more personal and distinctive for our customers,” she said.

Watch sales did well, but bead sales did not, as the company lessened participation in its proprietary brands.

– Its marketing will be more targeted—particularly with regard to bridal.

“Only 2 percent of people in the country will get engaged in the next year,” she said. “While broad-scale marketing can be effective…targeting them on their journey at those right touch points is what really matters.

“We have moved more of our effort to the right search terms, the right targeted social programs,” she added. “We’re seeing an improvement in Kay, and we back that up with putting more premium diamonds, larger carat sizes, more fancy stones, more solitaires because those are trending in Kay, and we saw a very positive response.”

The company also plans new sport-network integrations with the National Football League, National Basketball Association, and National Collegiate Athletic Association football.

It also wants to differentiate advertising more among its Kay, Jared, and Zales banners. In the past, the company has run the same commercial at all three nameplates.

– Signet is on track to complete its previously announced goal of closing 200 stores in fiscal 2019.

“New store openings remain disciplined, focusing on off-mall locations and desirable markets,” she said.

– In response to a question, she indicated the company is open to selling lab-grown diamonds.

“We have a very customer-first mindset on this,” she said. “What our research shows is that customers prefer natural diamonds for those really important purchases, bridal, special birthday, graduations, those kinds of things, but there could be some growing interest in the fashion jewelry space for synthetic diamonds. So we’ll make sure that Signet is well positioned to participate in that space if the growth and the economics of it are attractive, and if customers point us in that direction.”

– Signet just did its first employee survey in eight years.

“Our overall engagement levels outperformed retail benchmarks with particular strength in our field-operations teams. Team members like the work they do, enjoy strong relationships with their immediate managers, and, importantly, believe they have a responsibility to promote diversity in the workplace.”

(Image courtesy of James Allen)

JCK News Director