Signet Reportedly Rebuffs Ratner Bid

The Signet Group plc, the world’s largest retail jeweler, has reportedly rejected a second bid by retail jewelry entrepreneur Gerald Ratner to buy its British operations, says the Times of London in a Nov. 4 report. London-based Signet is the parent firm of Sterling Inc., Akron, Ohio, which operates Kay Jewelers and Jared Galleria, and provides over 70 percent of its sales. Signet’s British jewelry chains include H Samuel and Ernest Jones.

According to reports in The Times, Reuters and London’s Daily Express, an offer of 350 million pounds (about $663 million) for the two British chains was made by a group of investors led by Ratner. The offer, according to the Times, was “rebuffed” by the Signet board of directors.

Ratner made an earlier bid in August, to buy H Samuel and Ernest Jones for 200 million pounds, an offer which Signet also rejected.

Gerald Ratner built and led the Ratners Group (later renamed Signet), until the early 1990s. He was ousted by its board, after he publicly joked disparagingly about some of its own jewelry, which led to financial problems for the company. He later began Geraldonline.com, now the United Kingdom’s largest online jeweler, selling jewelry at low prices.