Signet UK sales up in Q1 but losses hit £1.9m

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H Samuel outperforms Ernest Jones as UK arm hit by currency woes.

Signet’s UK like-for-like sales crept up 1.2% on sales of US$148.5 million (£94.8m) in the 13 weeks to April 28.

Total group like-for-like sales at Signet worldwide were similarly up 1.2% on sales of US$900 million (£574.4m).

In the UK H Samuel continued to outperform sister chain Ernest Jones with a like-for-like sales uplift of 1.8% in Q1 compared with a 0.6% rise at Ernest Jones.
Gross margin in the UK was US$1.8 million (£1.1m) lower than the first quarter of fiscal 2012. The company said that this was primarily due to unfavourable foreign currency impact and a decline in gross merchandise margin of 170 basis points attributed to the level of promotional activity and merchandise mix, which were partially offset by lower store occupancy and store operating expenses.

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In the UK Signet’s net operating loss was US$3 million (£1.9m), up on last year’s Q1 loss of US$200,000 (£127,630). Operating margin decreased by 190 basis points to 2%.

Signet chief executive Mike Barnes said: “We delivered strong financial results in the first quarter and increased our earnings per share by 10.3% to $0.96 as we anticipated the impact of the Mother’s Day promotional calendar shift and managed our business accordingly.

“In the second quarter to date, which benefited from the calendar shift, our same store sales, including Mother’s Day, were up strong double-digits reflecting the customer’s broad acceptance of our merchandise offerings, our great customer experience and the effectiveness of our advertising in this important gift giving period. Our results year to date, combined with our focus on competitive strengths and our consistent ability to execute our initiatives, leave us well positioned to meet the challenges of the current economic environment and achieve our objectives for the year.”

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