Signet Jewelers Acquires Ultra Stores to Expand Outlet Business

Signet Jewelers has acquired Ultra Stores for approximately $57 million as part of a planned expansion into the outlet business.

Founded in 1991, the Chicago-based Ultra chain, which also goes by the name Ultra Diamonds, has more than 140 stores, mostly based in outlets. It has also traditionally operated leased departments in stores like Filene’s Basement and Burlington Coat Factory. Its current majority shareholder is Crystal Financial, which took over 57 percent of the company following its 2009 bankruptcy. Ultra president and CEO Daniel Marks referred all comments to Signet.

Signet will acquire no new debt as the result of the purchase.

In a statement, Signet CEO Michael Barnes said that the acquisition “will immediately result in our having a significant share of the outlet channel for jewelry.… We had identified this rapidly growing channel as an opportunity to profitably increase our sales.”

Signet already owns 34 outlet stores, says Signet spokesman David Bouffard. 

Bouffard declined comment on what will happen to Ultra, including whether it will operate as a standalone division or whether its headquarters will be integrated into Signet’s headquarters in Akron, Ohio.

“As the transaction has not yet closed, we do not believe it is appropriate at this time to provide additional information,” he says.

No timeline was given as to when the transaction will close.

The Signet statement did indicate that some elements of the status quo will be kept, with Barnes noting it wants take advantage of “Ultra’s expertise” in the outlet sector.

Ultra has filed for Chapter 11 twice—once in 2001, and again in 2009.

In 2010, Signet’s then-CEO Terry Burman indicated the retailer wanted to acquire another jewelry chain.

“We tried for about three years growing organically and we couldn’t do it,” Burman told an investment conference. “It’s going to have to be through an acquisition.”

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