Signet’s first-quarter same store sales up 2.2%

Signet Group plc, the world’s largest specialty retail jeweler, reported that group sales in the first quarter (February 2 to May 3) were £342.9 million (US$546.2 million), an increase of 4.6% at constant exchange rates.

At actual exchange rates Group sales were down by 3.4% reflecting the weakening of the U.S. dollar. Same store sales increased by 2.2%.

In the U.S., total sales in the first quarter fell 6.4% with same store sales up 1.1%.

“Against the background of demanding comparatives the US division increased like for like sales by 1.1%,” said Terry Burman, Group chief executive. “The business performed strongly during the Valentine’s Day period; subsequent trading was affected by inclement weather in late February and early March. Although the later timing of Easter and the war in Iraq have made the subsequent pattern of trading difficult to interpret, there has been some evidence of weaker consumer demand. Strict control was exercised over costs and gross margin throughout the period.”

Signet operates 1,671 specialty retail jewelry stores; these included 1,065 stores in the U.Ss, where the Group trades as Kay Jewelers, Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry, and under a number of regional names; and 606 stores in the UK, where the Group trades as H.Samuel, Ernest Jones, and Leslie Davis.