Dahl named Signet's UK chief executive

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The Independent Online
SIGNET, THE world's largest speciality retail jeweller, yesterday named Ian Dahl as the chief executive officer of the group's UK division and as a director of the company.

Mr Dahl will take up the position as soon as he is released from his present job as chairman and chief executive of the exclusive Bond Street jewellers, Asprey & Garrard, which made and supplied the engagement ring for Sophie Rhys-Jones, now the Countess of Wessex

According to James McAdam, the chairman and chief executive of Signet, Mr Dahl's main challenge will be to move the company's UK business forward by improving the quality and mix of products in the group's 423 H Samuel stores while increasing the average transaction value and holding on to existing customers.

Mr McAdam said there was also room for expansion of the company's 181 Ernest Jones stores, which are aimed at the upper end of the mass market.

Mr Dahl joined the Asprey Group as chief executive in 1995 shortly after it was acquired by Prince Jefri Bolkia, the younger brother of the world's richest man, the Sultan of Brunei. The Brunei Royal Family had been one of the biggest customers at Asprey.

Leaner times forced Prince Jefri to close some of the company's shops, including the Garrards flagship store in Regent Street.

Mr Dahl in turn yesterday announced the appointment of Guy Salter, currently the managing director at the Laurent-Perrier Champagne group, as managing director-designate at Asprey. "Having completed the restructuring and downsizing of the original Asprey Group into a new, smaller, dynamic Asprey & Garrard business, I have decided to bring in a new young, entrepreneurial manager to head up the executive team," Mr Dahl said.

Mr Dahl has extensive retail experience, having worked for Woolworth's, Marks & Spencer and Australia's Myer Department Store Group and Sportsgirl Sportscraft fashion group.

Signet's UK jewellery division has performed well since the group rebranded itself and dropped its former name, Ratners. The division announced sales of pounds 354m in the year ended 30 January 1999. But much of the company's turnover comes from the US, where sales reached pounds 637.2m in the same period. Mr Dahl will be filling the space left by Lawrence Cooklin, who quit Signet in April to join the Japanese investment bank Nomura.