Tiffany’s sales up 18%

Jeweler and specialty retailer Tiffany & Co.’s net sales for the holiday period from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 rose 18% over the prior year to $601 million, the company reported. Worldwide, on a constant-exchange-rate basis that excludes the effect of translating local-currency-denominated sales into U.S. dollars, net sales rose 14% and comparable store sales increased 10%.

U.S. retail sales increased 19% to more than $306 million. Comparable store sales rose 16% (up 14% in November and 16% in December), comprised of a 22% increase in Tiffany’s New York flagship store and a geographically broad-based 14% increase in branch stores. Comparable store sales growth was driven by an increase in the average amount spent per transaction, the company said in a statement.

International retail sales climbed 18% to more than $217 million, while on a constant-exchange-rate basis, total international retail sales rose 7%. On that basis, comparable retail store sales fell 7% in Japan (total retail sales dropped 3% in Japan), rose 25% in other Asia-Pacific markets and increased 13% in Europe. Strong comparable store sales growth was also achieved in Canada, Mexico, and Brazil, the company said.

Direct marketing sales rose 14% to $65 million, while combined Internet/catalog sales rose 27% due to continued strength in e-commerce sales. Business sales declined 13%, reflecting the company’s previously announced decision to exit the market for employee service award programs.

“We are obviously pleased with the considerable strength in U.S. retail sales which exceeded our … expectations,” Michael J. Kowalski, chairman and chief executive officer of Tiffany, said in a statement. “Sales in many international regions also rose significantly, although results in Japan continued to be disappointing primarily due to declining unit sales of silver jewelry which also hurts gross margin. At the same time, we were delighted to see strong sales growth of diamond jewelry in each of our major markets.”