De Beers' 2002 Sales Rise; Zale, Sterling Report Gains

February 6, 2003

De Beers' 2002 Sales Rise; Zale, Sterling Report Gains

De Beers' Diamond Trading Co. sales reached $5.15 billion in 2002, a 15.7% gain over 2001, DTC reports Feb. 6. Headline earnings at $570 million were 12% ahead of 2001 on a like-for-like basis after factoring out De Beers' investment in its sister company, Anglo American. DTC reduced its diamond stocks by nearly $1 billion during the year, the main contributor to the operating cash flow of $1.6 billion generated over the period, said a De Beers release. This enabled De Beers to reduce the amount outstanding on its senior debt by $1,065 million by paying its scheduled March 2002 repayment of $355 million as well as a voluntary prepayment of $710 million in Dec. 2002.

De Beers said global retail sales of diamond jewelry for the year held up and preliminary figures indicate about a 3% gain over the previous year. DTC says reports from the trade suggest jewelry sales outperformed general retail sales and diamond jewelry outperformed the general jewelry category over the Thanksgiving and Christmas season in the U.S. DTC attributes the strong showing to the increase in quality advertising spending by the diamond trade, the development of multiple brands and innovative marketing programs.

Globally, diamond sales growth was reported in the Middle East, India, China and the United Kingdom, but continental Europe was flat and Japan continued to decline, said De Beers.

Zale Corp., Dallas TX, North America's largest specialty retailer of fine jewelry, reports Feb. 6 that for the second quarter ended Jan. 31, comparable store sales increased 1.1% in constant currencies. Total revenues for the period were $908 million compared to last year's total revenues of $897 million, an increase of 1.2%. For the year-to-date, total revenues increased 1.0% to $1.320 billion, compared to $1.307 billion for the same period last year. On a year-to-date basis, comparable store sales increased 0.6% in constant currencies.

Sterling, the second largest jewelry retailer in the U.S. and a division of U.K.-based Signet Group, reports Feb. 6 its total sales for the year ended Feb. 1 were up 8.6% at constant exchange rates over the year before, with comparable-store sales up 5.4%. "The U.S. business, which had a particularly strong December, significantly outperformed the jewelry sector and continued to gain market share," says Signet Group Chief Executive Terry Burman. Earlier, Sterling noted the strength of its diamond sales last year, particularly diamond solitaires, three-stone jewelry, and the chain's branded Leo Diamonds, supplied by Leo Schachter Diamonds, New York City.

by Peggy Jo Donahue

Sign me up for