Signet Testing New Store Concept: Le Vian by Jared

Signet Jewelers is testing a new store concept, Le Vian by Jared, and it’s the first time the company has devoted a store to a single jewelry brand.

The first store will open later this year in the Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, N.Y., CEO Mark Light announced during a conference call following the release of its financial results. The company also apparently plans to open stores in Knoxville, Tenn., and Dulles, Va

In response to a question, Light said the company’s other mall-based Jared concept—Jared Jewelry Boutiques—shows promise, but it’s too soon to tell, although it plans to open more stores this year.

He had praise for the Jared Vault, the chain’s outlet concept that now numbers about 30 stores. It’s also testing Ernest Jones outlet stores in the United Kingdom.

Light said that bridal sales showed strength over the quarter, and that sales of lower price point items, including beads, silver, and the Jane Seymour collection, had improved since the holiday. He singled out Le Vian and Diamonds in Rhythm as strong performers for Sterling (Signet’s U.S. division), as well as Vera Wang LOVE, Celebration Diamond, and the Unstoppable Love collections in the Zale division.

It will open between 30 and 35 stores in its Zale division this year (about 25 Zale and 10 Piercing Pagoda stores), marking the first time in years the Zale division’s overall store count has not declined, though overall space will likely be flat. Signet completed its acquisition of Zale Corp. in May.

“If you look at store count, Kay has about 1,000 stores, Zale has about 700,” Light said. “We see tremendous opportunity to grow the Zale brand.” 

“We believe the Zale brand is a wonderful brand with high recognition just like the Kay brand,” he added later. “We don’t see any reason the Zale brand shouldn’t have as high average store [results] as the Kay brand.”

He said that Piercing Pagoda is now adding 14k gold and more branded product.

“There is a strong team running that business,” he says. “We think there is tremendous growth opportunity for Piercing Pagoda, but we need a year to get a better understanding of the business.”

The comments came as the company reported strong financial results for its fourth quarter of fiscal 2014 (ended Jan. 31), led by solid results from what Light called a “Signet-ized” Zale.

Total sales for the quarter were $2.2 billion, up 45.5 percent compared to last year, driven primarily by the addition of Zale, which added $637 million to the quarter. 

Most of its brands showed comp growth: Kay Jewelers same-store sales rose 4.6 percent; Jared, 2.6 percent; Zale’s, 3.2 percent; and Piercing Pagoda, 2.7 percent. The Gordon’s chain (part of Zale Corp.) saw comps drop 2.3 percent. Signet did not release same-store numbers from its Sterling division regional brands, but sales there logged an 11 percent net decline. Overseas brands performed strongly, with comps at its U.K. division rising 7.5 percent—its best number in 13 years—and a 6.6 increase at Zale Canada.

E-commerce sales rose 89 percent to $149.6 million for the fourth quarter. That number was also helped by of Zale, which added $54.8 million in e-tail sales. Excluding Zale, the division saw 20 percent growth.

Fourth quarter net income totaled $228 million, versus last year’s $175.2 million. Net income for the fiscal year 2014 totaled $381 million. 

Signet predicts a comp rise of 3 to 4 percent for the first fiscal quarter of 2015.

JCK News Director