Sterling Same Store Sales Up 7.1%; Kay Store Opens in Manhattan

June 14, 2005

Sterling Same Store Sales Up 7.1%; Kay Store Opens in Manhattan

United Kingdom-based Signet Group announced first quarter results for the period ended April 30. The U.S. division, Sterling Jewelers, saw same store sales increase 7.1% over the same quarter last year, with total sales up 11.6% at constant exchange rates over last year. The U.S. division's strong performance helped Signet realize a 10% increase in first quarter earnings, even as its U.K. division saw a plunge in same store sales of 6.2%. Sterling also announced the opening of a flagship store on 34th Street in Manhattan, a busy New York City shopping street.

Signet said in a statement that Sterling's gross margin was broadly in line with the first quarter of last year, which it attributed to a range of management initiatives, most notably selective action on selling prices to offset commodity price increases and product mix changes. "[Sterling] again outperformed its main competition and gained further market share," said Terry Burman, group chief executive. "Kay continued to build on its position as the leading U.S. specialty retail jewelry brand. Jared, our off-mall destination chain, had a particularly strong quarter."

The new Kay Store in New York City officially opened June 10 on 34th Street. just east of 7th Ave. Burman said the new store is the first of several planned in key metropolitan markets. The store, like all Kay Jewelers, features a diamontologist certified by the Diamond Council of America. It also carries Kay's successful branded diamond, the Leo, as well as a range of items including gold, colored gem jewelry and watches. It highlights industry trends by featuring right-hand rings and three-stone diamond jewelry, both of which are being heavily promoted by De Beers' Diamond Trading Co.

by Peggy Jo Donahue

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