Signet U.S. Sales Down Nearly 14%

Signet Jewelers Ltd., the world’s largest specialty retail jeweler, said Thursday that fourth-quarter sales declined 18.9 percent to $1.12 billion. Same stores sales fell 14.9 percent for the 13-week period ended Jan. 31.

At constant exchange rates (which strips away currency fluctuations), total sales declined 12.8 percent for the company, which has stores in the U.S. and U.K.

In the U.S., which accounted for 76.7 percent of total group sales for the quarter, sales declined 13.8 percent to $862.1 million. Same store sales fell 16.1 percent for the period.

In the U.K., which accounted for 23.3 percent of total group sales for the quarter, sales declined 32 percent to $261.4 million. At constant exchange rates, the drop was 9 percent. Same-store sales fell 9.2 percent for the period.

For the fiscal year, total sales decreased by 8.8 percent to $3.34 billion. Group same store sales for the period declined by 8.2 percent for the 52 week period ended Jan. 31. At constant exchange rates, total sales fell 5.7 percent.

In the U.S., which accounted for 75.8 percent of total group sales for the fiscal year, sales declined 6.3 percent to $2.53 billion. Same store sales declined 9.7 percent.

In the U.K., which accounted for 24.2 percent of total group sales for the fiscal year, total sales fell 15.8 percent to $808.1 million. At constant exchange rates, the drop was 3.3 percent. Same store sales declined 3.3 percent for the year.

“In the fourth quarter, the US business faced an extremely challenging and highly promotional environment. Against this background, same store sales outperformed the competition and gross merchandise margin rate showed a significant increase,” said . Terry Burman, Signet chief executive. “The U.K .division experienced trading conditions similar to those in the U.S., with both H.Samuel and Ernest Jones reporting a step down in sales performance compared to the first nine months of the year. Therefore on both sides of the Atlantic, we are reducing costs and focusing on cash generation. Further comments on these initiatives will be made at the time of our full year results.”

Signet operates about 1,959 specialty retail jewelry stores, including approximately 1,400 stores in the U.S., where the Group trades as “Kay Jewelers,” “Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry,” and under a number of regional names. The company also operated 558 stores in the U.K., where the Group trades as “H.Samuel,” “Ernest Jones,” and “Leslie Davis.”