Overall UK sales down 9.1%; same-store sales hit by H Samuel closures.
Signet Group has described bridal jewellery sales at Ernest Jones as strong today, as it delivered its Q1 results showing the UK market to be down 9.1% on last year.
At Ernest Jones the number of transactions was up, while at H Samuel the number of transactions declined, resulting in lower sales across most merchandise categories.
Overall Signet Group sales in the UK in the 13 weeks to May 4 dropped 9.1% to US$135 million (£89.6m). Same store sales fell 2.3% against a rise of 1.2% in the first quarter of its fiscal year 2013.
Signet Group said that the total sales decline was due to a same store sales drop of US$3.1 million (£2m), which it said was primarily led by recently closed H Samuel stores.
Online sales in the UK hit US$5.5 million (£3.7m), up 14.6% on the previous year.
The UK division’s operating loss was US$4.1 million (£2.7m), an increase of 36.7% and operating margin for the UK division decreased by 100 basis points to 3%. Selling, general and administrative expenses in the UK declined by US$2.7 million (£1.8m), reflecting the impact of cost reductions and currency fluctuations.
Worldwide Signet Group total sales were up 10.4% to US$993.6 million (£659.1m), while same store sales jumped 6.4%. The global online business delivered US$31.1 million (£20.6m), up 40.7%.
Signet Group chief executive Mike Barnes said: "We were very pleased with our results throughout the quarter, including Valentine’s Day and the run up to mother’s day. Our strong sales for these time periods were driven through excellence in execution by our associates, customers’ acceptance of our great merchandise offerings, and the continued effectiveness of our iconic advertising initiatives.
"These terrific results were achieved by our team’s consistent ability to execute our initiatives by focusing on our competitive strengths. We believe this leaves us well-positioned to achieve our financial objectives for this year. Consistent with our commitment to returning value to shareholders, we utilised our remaining stock buyback authorisation and repurchased $50.1 million of Signet shares during the first quarter.”