By Michelle Graff
One of the rings in Signet Jewelers Ltd.’s “Ever Us” collection of two-stone jewelry. The collection was a strong seller for Signet in the holiday season/fourth quarter.
Akron, Ohio--Signet Jewelers Ltd. shared preliminary fourth quarter results showing strong sales and credit metrics, just weeks after a report speculated that the retailer might be taking on too much risk with the loans it extends to consumers.

The Akron, Ohio-based retailer, which operates Kay Jewelers, Jared the Galleria of Jewelry and Zales stores, said Monday that its same-store sales increased 5 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter and that its credit program contributed to profitability during the period.

Signet also reported that its credit metrics improved quarter-over-quarter, even exceeding the impact of normal seasonality trends that tend to improve allowance metrics from Q3 to Q4.

Year-over-year, the difference in interest income from its Sterling division in-house finance programs (primarily, Kay and Jared; generally, an outside company handles the financing offered to Zales’ customers) relative to net bad debt was $3.9 million, up from $2.3 million last year.

“Signet delivered outstanding fourth quarter results,” CEO Mark Light said in a company news release. “Our business was strong in the fourth quarter as evidenced by our accelerating same-store sales performance. At the same time our credit metrics improved from the third quarter in line with expectations, and we remain confident in the strength of our credit portfolio.” 

The release of the results follows on the heels of a report by Bloomberg Business that questioned the retailer’s lending practices, stating that “behind its sparkly empire lie consumer loans that bankers might consider subprime debt.”

When asked Monday if the release of the preliminary fourth quarter figures was a direct reaction to the Bloomberg story, Signet spokesman David Bouffard said the company is “excited” about its fourth quarter results and wanted to share them now.

He also said that Signet wanted to share some credit metrics that it believes are “important to some shareholders.”

Light said in the release that the company is pleased with its current quarter performance so far and will release more details on Q1 during the company’s next earnings call, scheduled for March 24.

Signet’s positive fourth quarter comps outshone those of a number of other fine jewelry-selling retailers, including department store chain Macy’s and off-price retailer Kohl’s.

The retailer’s stock jumped nearly 14 percent following Monday’s announcement.

Get the Daily News >
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.