Major Retailers Release Quarterly Sales Numbers

November 6, 2003

Major Retailers Release Quarterly Sales Numbers

Quarterly sales figures brought good news for Zale Corp., Sterling Jewelers, Whitehall Jewellers Inc. Zale, Irving, TX, reports that for its first quarter ended Oct. 31, comparable store sales increased 1.6%. Total revenues for the period were $417 million, compared to last years first quarter revenues of $412 million, an increase of 1.2%.

"These sales results demonstrate the continued improvement in our business," says Mary L. Forte, president and CEO. "We are pleased with customer response to a number of new merchandising and branding initiatives as we prepare for the all-important holiday season."

Sterling, the U.S. unit of Signet, based in the United Kingdom, reports a third quarter comparable store sales increase of 4.5%. Total group sales for Signet, which also has a U.K. division, were up 7.1% at constant exchange rates, 3.8% at actual exchange rates. For the nine months ending Nov. 1, Signet's total group sales are up 5.5% at constant exchange rates, and down 0.5% at actual exchange rates. Comparable store sales for the total group during the same nine month period were up 3.3%.

"Our businesses have performed well in the first nine months of the year. Supported by a number of new and continuing initiatives, such as increased advertising, we are well positioned to compete during the important fourth quarter," says Terry Burman, group chief executive.

Whitehall Jewellers announced that for its third quarter ended Oct. 31, comparable store sales increased 3.9%, compared to a 6.4% decrease in the third quarter of last year. Total sales for its third quarter were $66.2 million compared to $61.8 million for the third quarter last year. For the nine-month period ended Oct. 31, Whitehall sales decreased 2.2% to $208.1 million versus $212.7 million for the nine-month period ended Oct. 31, 2002.

"I am pleased to announce positive comparable store sales for the quarter driven largely by the sales-focused initiatives undertaken earlier this year. Third quarter sales showed solid improvement from the first half of the year," says Hugh M. Patinkin, chairman and CEO. "Profits, however, continued to be negatively impacted by a number of factors including gross margin pressures. We also expect expenses to be higher in part due to our continuing expenditures to support our new sales based programs, costs associated with the closing of one store during the quarter and increased professional fees related to the previously announced litigation initiated by Capital Factors and associated regulatory and governmental investigation."

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