By Michelle Graff
Montreal--Following a tough fiscal year, specialty jeweler Birks Group Inc. has rebounded with a strong second quarter and first half, driven by watch sales and an increase in average ticket, number of transactions and store traffic. 

Montreal-based Birks operates the 18 Mayors stores located throughout the Southeastern U.S., as well as one Rolex store, Rolex Presented by Mayors, in Orlando, Fla. 

In the second quarter ended Sept. 27, Birks reported that its 19 U.S. stores recorded a 29 percent year-over-year increase in same-store sales. The company said a combination of factors drove the increase: higher average sales and number of sales transactions; an increase in foot traffic due to the success of the company’s watch brand and client acquisitions strategies; and higher sales in recently renovated stores. 

Same-store sales in Canada were up 17 percent in the period, driven by a higher average sale transaction due to the introduction of new watch brands, an expanded selection of both watch and fine jewelry brands, and Birks’ 135th anniversary celebrations. Birks operates a total of 28 Birks stores, which span most of Canada’s major metropolitan markets, as well as Brinkhaus stores in Calgary, Alberta and Vancouver, British Columbia. 

Total same-store sales for Birks Group Inc. rose 24 percent. Net sales were up 14 percent from $57.3 million to $65.5 million.

Through the first six months of the year, total same-store sales rose 20 percent, 25 percent in the U.S. and 14 percent in Canada. 

Net sales increased 10 percent from $127.4 to $139.7 million. Net loss shrunk from $7.7 million to $4 million. 

“We are extremely pleased with our performance during the first half of the fiscal year,” President and CEO Jean-Christophe Bédos said. “Our strategies, which we began implementing during the prior fiscal year, are delivering strong sales growth and are providing the company with significant momentum as we head into the holiday period.”  

When Birks reported its fiscal year-end financials in July, it recorded a $5.8 million loss that the retailer said was the result of opening new stores and remodeling others, the money it poured into new marketing campaigns and poor holiday sales. This remodeling included the introduction of the mono-brand concept at Birks stores in Canada, overhauling the merchandise assortment so they carried only one brand: the Birks brand. 

The company said at the time it was restructuring and cutting costs to save money. These cost-cutting measures included the closure of its office in Tamarac, Fla., with the functions of that office migrating to company headquarters in Montreal.  

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