Sterling Jewelers Sales Up

April 12, 2002

Sterling Jewelers Sales Up

Signet Group reports its U.S. division, Sterling Jewelers, had a 15% increase in sales, a 9.8% increase in operating profit, and comparable-store sales growth of 0.6% for the fiscal year ended Feb. 2, 2002. In the fourth quarter, same-store sales rose 4.6%. Sterling operates 1,025 stores in the U.S., under names such as Kay Jewelers and Jared The Galleria of Jewelry.

Sterling, which accounts for 71% of the group's sales, notched growth in a challenging year due to several factors. Costs, gross margin and inventories were tightly managed. Merchandising strategy emphasized thorough testing of new products with aggressive roll-outs of proven winners. Sterling's bridal range was expanded too. Three-stone jewelry performed well for the group, as did Leo Diamonds, which claim more brilliance than the average diamond. The diamond brand is exclusive to Signet stores.

Sterling also increased its advertising and marketing activities, with gross spending amounting to 6.3% of sales (last year, the spending was 6.2%). The U.S. division concentrated more on broadcast media and romance-based advertising themes, such as Kay Jewelers "Every Kiss Begins with Kay" campaign.

Sterling also modernized or relocated 91 stores in the fiscal year, added 41 new mall stores and 12 new Jared superstores. During 2002, it plans to modernize or relocate 100 stores and add up to 40 new mall stores and 12 Jared stores. It will close about 15 stores.

by Peggy Jo Donahue

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