Signet Christmas same store sales down 2.6% in UK

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Nine weeks to Christmas shows notable drop in sales at Ernest Jones.

Signet Group has announced its holiday season same store sales results for the nine weeks ending December 29, with the UK down 2.6% compared to the same period in 2011.

Overall, Signet’s combined UK and US same store sales increased 3.3%, with the US leading the charge with a jump in sales at both its Kay and Jared stores.

However the UK arm of the business continues to fall behind the US, with sales at H. Samuel down 0.5% in the nine weeks to December 29, and Ernest Jones sales dropping 5.5% in the same period.

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In the nine week period Signet’s total sales increased 7.1%, hitting $1.23 billion (£770m), including $37.0 million (£23m) from sales at the group’s recently acquired portfolio of Ultra store in the US.

In the UK, Signet’s total sales were $203.4 million (£126m) in the nine weeks, a decrease of 5.0% compared to 2011’s increase of 0.9% in the same period. Same store sales in the UK were down 2.6% compared to an increase of 1.8% in 2011. The UK business was said to strengthen late into the holiday season however this increase was described as “insufficient” to offset earlier traffic declines.

Consolidated e-commerce sales increased by 39% compared to the same nine weeks in 2011, comprised of a 49% increase in the US division and an 8% increase in the UK division.

Mike Barnes, chief executive of Signet Jewelers said: “We are pleased with our holiday season performance in both sales and margins. Same store sales were up 3.3%, led by the US division up 4.7%.

“We believe our strong performance was due to exceptional execution by our teams. I would like to thank them all very much for their dedication and hard work. We saw particularly strong performance in the weeks and days leading up to Christmas. Business trends continue to be encouraging in the US and have improved in the UK after the holiday season.”

Signet’s US division enjoyed strength in sales of bridal jewellery, coloured diamonds, fashion jewellery and watches, owing to seasonal initiatives in store.

In the UK, branded jewellery were the strongest performers, continuing the trend outlined in Signet’s Q3 results where prestige and fashion watches were named sales drivers.

Barnes continued: “We believe that Signet is well-positioned for fiscal 2014 and we will remain focused on providing our customers with an outstanding experience, while continuing to invest in the business to further our competitive strengths and create shareholder value.”

Signet’s sales and earnings for Q3, ending October 29 2012, outlined a fall in sales in the UK totalling 4.7%. H Samuel sales totalled $74.1m (£46.5m) in Q3, while Ernest Jones and Leslie Davis’ combined sales totaled $66.5m (£41.7m), up 3.6% compared to Q3 last year.

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