Birks Group attributed part of the decline in same-store sales in fiscal 2018 to the renovations--and subsequent decline in sales--of its Montreal and Toronto flagships, the latter of which is pictured here.
Montreal–Canadian retailer Birks Group said comparable store sales were down 4 percent in its full fiscal year ended March 31, driven by a “softening” luxury retail market across Canada.

Renovations to its Montreal and Toronto flagships resulting in a temporary decline in sales volumes there also affected the outcome during the year, the company said.

It added that when the impact of lower sales of these two stores are excluded, comps rose by 1 percent, driven by increased sales of Birks-branded products, the successful execution of targeted marketing campaigns, and growth in wholesale and e-commerce sales.

The retailer, which operates 27 stores under the Birks brand across Canada and two retail locations in Calgary and Vancouver under the Brinkhaus brand, also said it saw softer retail conditions during the holiday period.

Net sales during the full year decreased by $2 million to $114.4 million, while gross profit was $43.6 million during fiscal 2018, compared with $46.8 million last year.

Fiscal 2018 operating loss was $13.7 million, an increase of $10 million from the $3.7 million reported in fiscal 2017. Birks Group also reported a net income of $11.7 million for the fiscal year, compared with a net income of $4.9 million for fiscal 2017.

Birks President and CEO Jean-Christophe Bédos said in the company’s financial results overview that its performance was reflective of a number of “major transformative changes” it undertook in the last year.

This included the sale of its Mayor’s Jewelers subsidiary to United Kingdom-based Aurum Holdings in October, which he said has allowed the company to reduce debt and strengthen the balance sheet.

During its fiscal year, the retailer also has seen the ongoing implementation of its new enterprise resource planning system, which allow business to manage day-to-day business activities.
RELATED CONTENT: Retailer Hall of Fame Inductee: Jean-Christophe Bédos
Birks Group said it now is focusing largely on a five-year strategic plan with five major initiatives: offering customers an omnichannel experience through the new enterprise resource planning system; enhancing its retail stores by renovating its three flagship locations in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver; expanding e-commerce and wholesale channels; upping its bridal and fine jewelry product offerings to emphasize quality, design and accessible price points; and positioning the Birks product as an international brand.

The Birks jewelry collections were launched in the U.K in September 2017 via an exclusive distribution agreement with Mappin & Webb and Goldsmiths jewelers; the company intends to increase its international presence over the next five years.

Its endorsement from Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, who has often been pictured wearing Birks jewelry, seems like a major step in increasing international brand visibility, though Eva Hartling, chief marketing officer and vice president of the Maison Birks line, recently commented that there is a downside to the publicity.

She told Canadian news magazine Maclean’s that, “…All messaging pertaining to Birks right now has to do with the duchess wearing our pieces. We’re launching new collections in the fall, but nobody cares unless the duchess decides to buy a piece and wear it.”

|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.