Signet’s same-store sales up 3.7% for the holidays; U.S. sales rose nearly 5%

Signet Group plc, the world’s largest specialty retailer, reports that same-store sales for the 2004 holiday season were up 3.7% over the previous year.

In the U.S., where the operates approximately 1,126 stores under the names Kay Jewelers, Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry, and under a number of regional names, same-store holiday sales shot up 4.9%, compared to 2003. The U.S. accounts for 68% of Signet’s annual sales.

In the United Kingdom, where the group operates approximately 600 stores under the names H.Samuel, Ernest Jones, and Leslie Davis, same-store sales rose 1.5%, when compared to the previous year. The U.K. accounts for 32% of Signet’s annual sales.

For the 48-week period, ending Jan. 1, Group same-store sales were up 5.1% over the previous year, the company said, with a 6% rise in the U.S. for the period and a 3.1% increase in the U.K.

“The Group did not participate in the higher level of discounting that was generally evident on both sides of the Atlantic and gross margin was broadly maintained during the period. Profit before tax for 2004/05 is currently expected to be in the range of GBP 209 million to GBP 215 million ($391 million to $402 million), in line with market expectations, after taking account of the further weakening of the US dollar during December,” said Terry Burman, Signet chief executive.

“Our US business again significantly outperformed its main competition,” Burman added. “A higher level of television advertising and the continuing implementation of our proven strategy contributed to the sales increase. Jared, the off-mall destination superstore concept, performed particularly well and Kay further enhanced its position as the number one specialty jewelry brand in the U.S.”