Signet head plans to retire; company reports annual and quarterly results

James McAdam, chairman of Signet Group plc, the world’s largest specialty retail jeweler, said he plans to retire from the board no later than June 2006, when he will be 75.

McAdam was appointed chairman of the London-based company in January 1992 and also served as chief executive between November 1992 and March 2000.

In addition, Rob Anderson, 46, chief executive of the U.K. Division of the Signet Group since January 2003, has been named to Signet’s board as an executive director, effective immediately. Anderson joined the Group as COO of the UK division in August 2000.

McAdam announced he was stepping down at the same time Signet posted annual profits of $394.4 million, a 12% rise at constant exchange rates or 5% when the weak dollar is included.

Group same-store sales in the fourth quarter rose by 3.6%, while total sales were up by 6.1% at constant exchange rates, or 0.5% at actual exchange rates, when the weakened dollar is taken into account. The 13-week reporting period ended Jan. 29.

Sales in the United States, which accounted for a 67% share of group sales during the quarter, totaled $840 million, a 4.7% increase, while sales in the UK, which accounted for 33% of group sales, was $413.3 million, a 1.4% increase.

The U.K. saw an increase of 1.8% in sales during the quarter with H. Samuel like for like sales up by 0.6% and Ernest Jones up by 2.5%.

For the year ending Jan. 29, group same-store sales rose 5%, while total sales were up by 7.7% at constant exchange rates, or 0.5% at actual exchange rates, again reflecting the weakening of the U.S. dollar.

Signet operates 1,758 specialty jewelry stores, including 1,156 stores in the U.S., where the Group operates as Kay Jewelers, Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry, and under a number of regional names; 602 stores in the U.K., where the Group operates as H.Samuel, Ernest Jones, and Leslie Davis.