Signet chief exec promises investment in UK

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Mike Barnes says jewellery retailer will invest despite mulling sale.

Signet chief executive Mike Barnes has insisted that the retail group will continue to invest in the UK despite the possibility of a sale of its UK arm.

According to a report by Retail Week magazine Barnes said: “We will continue to make investments [in the UK]. We are moving from certain sites and trialling merchandise… we see an opportunity there.”

Speculation about the sale of the UK division of the international jewellery retail business has been rife. It has been estiimated that a sale of the UK arm, which includes fascias Ernest Jones and H Samuel, could generate as much as £400 million to £600 million and it is believed that the sale will attracte private equity buyers. Signet’s financial advisor Lazard is said to be charged with determining a specific price for the business. 

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Signet’s Q1 results for fiscal 2012 show that same-store sales were up 10.2%, compared to a rise of 5.8% in Q1 of last year. Total sales rose to $887.3 million.

In the UK, sales reached $149.3 (£91.5m), 16.8% of Signet’s overall $887.3m. There was 0.2% rise in same-store sales in the UK, reflective of continued slow growth seen in the UK market. In Q4 of last year, sales in for Signet in the UK totalled 20.7% of the group’s overall total.

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