By Michelle Graff
michelle.graff@nationaljeweler.com
Akron, Ohio--Signet Jewelers Ltd. posted a 3 percent increase in same-store sales in the third quarter, with revenue meeting expectations in what CEO Mark Light described as a “choppy retail environment.”

Kay Jewelers stores posted a 7 percent increase in same-store sales in the third quarter, with branded bridal jewelry and “Ever Us” two-stone rings performing particularly well, parent company Signet reported Tuesday.Headquartered in Akron, Signet operates the Kay Jewelers, Jared the Galleria of Jewelry, Zales Jewelers and Piercing Pagoda chains, among others in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. It acquired the Zale brands in a $1.4 billion deal that closed in May 2014.

In its fiscal third quarter ended Oct. 31, Piercing Pagoda posted the greatest same-store sales increase of all Signet brands, with its comps climbing 10 percent. Kay Jewelers followed with an increase of 7 percent.

Comps slipped 3 percent for Jared the Galleria of Jewelry stores and rose only 2 percent for Zales Jewelers.

Light said during Tuesday’s morning earnings call that the third quarter is typically the retailer’s smallest quarter in terms of revenue, and is a time they used to prepare their salespeople for the all-important fourth quarter. That was particularly pronounced this third quarter at Jared, which held a leadership conference and was training employees based on a new customer segmentation study conducted by Bain & Company.

Product-wise, branded bridal jewelry did well in all Signet-owned stores, and Light said the new “Ever Us” collection of two-stone rings is performing “greater than our expectations at this point.”

Signet introduced Ever Us across all its stores in October. It was the biggest product introduction in the history of the company, which expanded in size exponentially last year with the acquisition of Zale. 

The ring is meant to convey the message that two bonds exist between individuals; husband and wife, for example, are both best friends and lovers.

Signet team members in New York developed the concept in an effort to stimulate demand for diamond jewelry in the way that De Beers’ “beacon” programs--e.g., Journey, the three-stone ring--have done in the past. Signet is working together with De Beers diamond brand Forevermark to promote Ever Us this holiday season and allows Forevermark to sell it through its retail partners.

Right now, Ever Us is just one ring style in five different carat weights, but Light said Tuesday that he sees it expanding into earrings and pendants, noting that the concept has “longer-term strategic potential.” He said the company’s sales teams are seeing consumers buy Ever Us for a wide variety of events, including birthdays, anniversaries and even as a self-purchase.

Total sales for Signet, including the stores it operates in the U.K., reached $1.22 billion in the third quarter, a 3 percent year-over-year increase.

Online sales rose from $44.8 million to $50.5 million, a 13 percent increase.

The company reported a profit of $15 million, up from a loss of $1.3 million in the prior-year period.

As of Oct. 31, Signet had 3,618 jewelry stores in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. The company has opened 39 net new stores this year but in its Zale division has actually closed more stores (21) than it’s opened (18).

In the fourth quarter, Signet expects same-store sales to increase between 3.5 and 5 percent, with Light noting that November has the quarter off to a strong start.





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