Demand for charm bracelets lifts Signet

Strong demand for charm bracelets and a 12 per cent increase in prices helped Ernest Jones and H Samuel parent Signet narrow UK sales declines in the second quarter, the group said yesterday.

Signet Jewelers reported a 0.5 per cent fall in like-for-like sales during the three months to July 31 in a marked improvement on the 4.3 per cent plunge seen a year earlier.

The US-headquartered group, which also owns the Leslie Davis chain, saw a good performance from its recently introduced charm bracelet range.

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Its average selling price also rose to 94 in the second quarter, having made a series of increases over the past year to help counter soaring costs of gold, unfavourable exchange rates, and the end of the temporary VAT reduction in January.

But Signet said trading remained "challenging" in the UK, which accounts for around a fifth of annual group sales.

Profit margins are coming under pressure across its 548 UK shops and it expects this to continue into the second half and the next financial year.

Its US arm has fared better, with same store sales up 5.9 per cent in the second quarter across Signet's American brands – led by Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry.

This helped offset the weaker UK performance, with cost cutting also aiding a 47.5 per cent leap in second quarter net income to 40.7 million US dollars (26.2m).

Pre-tax income for the year to date has recovered by 72 per cent to 92.7 million dollars (60m) after a tough first half in 2009.