Virginia “Gina” Drosos (pictured), CEO of Signet Jewelers, spoke to JCK in January about where she sees opportunities, possible store closings, and the company’s credit issues.
What do you see as areas for growth in the industry?
Bridal continues to be an area for growth. We have been through a several-year period where the number of engagements was declining, which was really a demographic factor: Young people are getting engaged later, on average. Now it’s 29 for men and 27 for women. So we have come through that trend, and now we are expecting to see year-on-year growth in the number of engagements. There is an opportunity for bridal.
Beyond that, our opportunity is to really speak to women self-purchasers, like myself, like many other women who want to express themselves and have jewelry as part of their look. We haven’t had the kind of assortment, nor frankly the marketing, that has allowed us to reach those customers.
Signet has 3,000 stores in the United States. With so much talk of store closings, do you think that number will decline in the years to come?
We are very customer-led on this. Where there is traffic, we will be there. We see a competitive advantage in our store footprint. For a number of years, we have been moving out of malls, where traffic is declining, into off-mall formats, where we are able to serve our customers much better.
Signet has always perceived its in-house credit as giving it an edge. Do you see that changing, now that you are outsourcing your credit?
Credit has been, is, and will be a competitive advantage for our company. It’s not going away. What’s changed is how we finance our credit, and that part of the decision has gone very well. It frees up Signet to invest more money in the things that we believe will be able to drive growth.
What, frankly, has not gone well in the transition is the operational and executional changes. And that’s really a change-management issue that was underestimated. I’m a person of plain speak, so I’ve been transparent about that internally and externally. It’s something that we are working very hard to fix, and we are making improvements day by day, but we are not 100 percent there yet.
Top: Rings from the Neil Lane Bridal Collection, sold at Zales, Kay Jewelers, and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry