Brisbane, Australia--Though retailer Michael Hill’s U.S. performance came up short in its half-year period, the company said it reduced losses and continues to be optimistic about the market.

Same-store sales in the U.S. were down 9 percent in retailer Michael Hill’s half-year ended Dec. 31 after a “difficult trade period, especially in the key December quarter.”

In its preliminary results for the sixth-month period, the company said it also attributes some of the decline to a management reorganization in the U.S.

Revenue also was down in the company’s U.S. segment, declining 6 percent to $7 million.

Meanwhile, a lift in gross margin and reduction in costs has reduced the U.S. losses for the half to $1.1 million, an improvement on the $1.6 million loss reported in the six-month period in 2015.

No new stores were opened in the U.S., remaining at 10 total.

Michael Hill said it expects top-line sales in the region to improve over the second half and despite the results, still sees the U.S. as a “viable growth opportunity,” where it will continue to innovate and test the market with an eye on opening more stores when the opportunity presents itself.  

Overall, same-store sales across all divisions of the retailer were up 1 percent total, while group revenue increased more than 5 percent, from approximately $238.4 million in the year-earlier period to $251.2 million in the half-year 2016.

The company called the first half overall results “pleasing,” given the difficult trading period in the lead up to December and the holiday season.

In Australia, comps were nearly flat during the period while revenue was up 3 percent to $139.6 million. The New Zealand division saw same-store sales and revenue both decline by a little more than 1 percent.

Michael Hill’s Canadian segment pulled out a strong performance, noting a 7 percent increase in comps and 17 percent increase in revenue to $47.9 million. The company attributed its solid growth to a combination of increasing brand awareness in newer markets and improved execution of the sales management system.

Michael Hill had a total of 329 stores operating as of Dec. 31 across Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the U.S.

The company is No. 14 on National Jeweler’s “Top 50 Retail Jewelry Chains” list in the 2016 State of the Majors.

|Subscribe >
National Jeweler

Fine Jewelry Industry News

Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.