Sterling Comp Store Sales Up 1.1%

May 9, 2003

Sterling Comp Store Sales Up 1.1%

Sterling, the U.S. division of United Kingdom-base Signet Group, reports that during its first quarter, which ended May 3, total sales rose 4.1% at constant exchange rates. Same store sales increased 1.1%.

The sales figures represent a softening of business for Sterling, which outperformed many other jewelry retailers last year when it reported total sales up 8.6% and comparable store sales up 5.4% for the year ended Feb. 1, 2003.

"The [U.S.] business performed strongly during the Valentine's day period; subsequent trading was affected by inclement weather in late February and early March," says Terry Burman, group chief executive of Signet Group. "Although the later timing of Easter and the war in Iraq have made the subsequent pattern of trading difficult to interpret, there has been some evidence of weaker consumer demand." Burman also said the company exercised strict control over its costs and gross margin throughout the first quarter as sales weakened.

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