Sterling and Signet post holiday sales gains

Holiday sales for the eight weeks ending Dec. 24 rose 6.4%, on a comparative store basis, for Sterling Inc., the second largest North American jewelry retailer, “despite facing challenging comparatives,” says a company report, and 6.5% for its London-based parent firm, Signet Inc. Sterling’s mall and Jared stores both performed well.

“In an improving retail environment, the business continued to benefit from its competitive strengths in merchandising, store operations and marketing,” says the report. “We are very pleased with our strong performance over the Christmas period in both the United States and the United Kingdom,” said Terry Burman, Signet Group chief executive and chairman of Sterling. “Our US business continued to implement its successful long term growth strategy with total dollar sales over the Christmas period up by 10.4%.

Profit before tax for 2003/04 for the Group is anticipated to be ahead of last year and to meet analysts’ expectations notwithstanding the recent sharp fall in the U.S. dollar exchange rate, the company said.

Signet operates about 1,708 specialty retail jewelry stores, including 1,103 U.S. stores, trading nationally as “Kay Jewelers” and “Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry” and under a number of regional names.