In a podcast episode with business magazine Fortune, the CEO of Signet Jewelers has pledged that the business will significantly outstrip the competition in terms of company growth this year.

Virginia C Drosos told the Leadership Next podcast: “The jewellery category, we think, will grow about 30% this year, but Signet [will grow] somewhere in the 40%-plus range [which] is definitely gaining market share.”

She based this claim on the company’s growth in 2021, despite challenging circumstances. Its 2022 growth would be even more considerable, she said, if it was not for the 40-year-high inflation rates currently experienced.

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Elsewhere in the interview with co-hosts Alan Murray and Ellen McGirt, Drosos broke down the share of business Signet is seeing (in the US) online versus in-store.

72% of Signet customer journeys begin online, Drosos said in the podcast, but she believes 85% of customers have “a connected journey”, shopping in an omnichannel fashion, jumping between store and online through the research and shopping process.

“Our e-commerce as a percent of our sales has quadrupled since before the pandemic, Drosos said. “So when we began our transformation, only about 5% of sales were e-commerce, and now we’re typically in the high teens, low 20s as a percent.

“Now, of course, this connected journey is what’s so important. So we still have, you know, the 80% of people who are finalising their sale in the store. They might have done that through buy-online, pick-up in store. They might have done a curbside pickup, but they’re getting that last step typically at the store level.”

This perhaps indicates that consumers have more faith in the information they find online about products, rather than from retail staff, but they still want to see the product and get the in-store treatment when buying their jewellery.

“And then in terms of stores,” she continued, “that’s been a big part of the financial progress, and I think consumer experience that we’ve brought during our transformation. W

“We’ve closed about 22% of our stores since our transformation began. We’ve also opened stores in better locations. We did that based on data. We really took a white sheet of paper and mapped the [US] and said, if we were going to plant store number one, where should it be, and went from there.

“We also differentiated our banners when we began our transformation. Kay and Zales were very similar. You almost couldn’t tell the difference. And we really did our homework on who the customer is for those different banners. We separated the assortment, the experience, so we’re speaking to different customers. The combination of those two things really has allowed us to optimise our store footprint.”

This echoes the company’s strategy in the UK too, with Signet not only differentiating between its H Samuel and Ernest Jones brands but also closing a significant number of stores.

Signet UK’s Neil Old

UK managing director Neil Old told Professional Jeweller last year: “We spent a lot of time actually, even during lockdown, doing a lot of research around who is the H Samuel customer? Who is the Ernest Jones customer? A lot of quantitative and qualitative customer insight.”

Back on the US side of the business, Drosos concluded: “So now we have a competitive advantage, because we have the best digital experience that you can get in jewellery, and we still have a broad but optimised store footprint with stores in the right places. So they’re convenient for people to be able to go in if they want to.”

Already, the proof is in the pudding for the company, which has reported some of the industry’s strongest results of late. Read more below:

Signet and Watches of Switzerland Group lead massive industry growth during pandemic

Click here to find out more about H. Samuel.

Click here to find out more about Ernest Jones.

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