Signet half-year profit is unchanged

Signet Group Plc, said for the first half of the year profit was unchanged as a drop in the value of the dollar cut North American earnings when translated into pounds sterling.

The London-based company, which operates 1,675 specialty retail jewelry stores in the U.S. and the U.K., reported a total profit of 47.8 million pounds ($75.45 million) in the first half of the year ended Aug. 2—unchanged from 2002 first half results. At constant exchanged rates, the company said its profit increased by 9.6%. The company said the value of the dollar dropped 10% during the past year.

The company said total sales fell 2.3% at 667.4 million pounds ($1 billion), again blaming the U.S. dollar. Not counting the exchange rate, the company said total sales rose 4.9%.

Same-store sales increased by 2.8%, the company reported.

Operating profit fell in the first half by 2.9% to 53.9 million pounds ($85 million). However, not including exchange rates the company profits were 6.8% higher than the previous year.

“The Group has made further good progress in the first half with an increase in profit before tax of 10% at constant exchange rates. The effect of exchange translation means that the extent of the underlying improvement is not immediately apparent in reported results,” Terry Burman, Signet Group chief executive said.

In the U.S., which accounts for 71% of Signet’s sales, same-store sales rose 3.1% for the second quarter and 2.1% for the first-half of the year, the company reported.

Total sales in the U.S. fell 4.9%. However, the company said, at constant exchange rates sales rose 4.9%.

Operating profit in the U.S. fell 5.6% to 48.9 million pounds ($77.2 million), the company reported. Excluding exchange rates, the company said profits rose 4.1%.

In the U.K., which accounts for 29% of sales) operating profit rose by 25.8% to 7.8 million pounds ($12.3 million) in the first half of the year. Sales increased by 4.8% to 192.5 million pounds ($204.4 million). Same-store sales rose 4.5%.

Signet operates 1,073 stores in the US (Kay Jewelers, Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry, and under a number of regional names) and 602 stores in the UK (H.Samuel, Ernest Jones, and Leslie Davis).