Brisbane, Australia--Though jewelry retail group Michael Hill International saw sales grow overall in the second half of the year, the U.S. market presented some problems for the company.

In the six-month period ended Dec. 31, the United States, which currently has 11 Michael Hill stores, saw same-store sales decline 9 percent.

The company described U.S. stores as needing “some extra focus,” an effort which is to be spearheaded by North American President Brett Halliday, who became president of the entire North American market in September after heading the company’s Canadian division for years.

Via a statement, the company said, “With continued consolidation of jewelry industry in the U.S., the company still sees a good opportunity for our company in this large and lucrative market.”

Overall, same-store sales for the retailer were up 1 percent in the second half of 2016. Total sales increased 6 percent, due to store expansion for both the Michael Hill and Emma & Roe brands.

Eight Michael Hill stores were opened during the period, bringing the total store count to 305. Total Michael Hill store sales growth was 5 percent and same-store sales increased by 1 percent.

In 2016, the company opened 19 total stores for both the Michael Hill and Emma & Roe brands, and the retailer said it has plans for 32 new locations in 2017, which will include additional Emma & Roe stores in Australia.

Michael Hill’s expansion will be focused on Canada, which fared the best of all four countries in the second half, with same-store sales up slightly more than 7 percent. There currently are 72 branded stores in the country, with five newly opened this half and eight more coming in the six-month period.

In New Zealand, same-store sales were down 2 percent and Australia recorded a nearly flat performance, which was below expectations and likely due to competitors going on sale earlier than anticipated. Despite this, Australia still saw an almost 3 percent increase in sales in the month of December.

Michael Hill International was founded by Sir Michael Hill in New Zealand in 1979. The company is now headquartered in Brisbane, Australia. The company currently operates 329 Michael Hill and Emma & Roe branded stores across Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.


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