Gem of a year for Goldsmiths

THE INVESTMENT COLUMN
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The Independent Online
Goldsmiths, the fast expanding jewellery chain run by Jurek Piasecki, has been the gem of the sector this year. In April the company announced doubled profits of pounds 3m. New stores, better systems and a couple of small acquisitions have boosted the group, which has been well positioned to take advantage of the problems at Signet, the former Ratners business which controls H Samuel and Ernest Jones stores.

The shares have mirrored the trading, rising by 50 per cent this year to 227p, up another 2p yesterday.

The good news continued with yesterday's bullish Christmas trading statement. Like-for-like sales rose by 8.7 per cent in the month before Christmas, compared with a very strong December last year. Sales for the 11 months to December were up by a heady 7.7 per cent. The concession opened in Harrods this year is also trading well.

Goldsmiths built its reputation on watches, which account for around 50 per cent of sales. It has tied up distribution agreements with Rolex, Cartier and Gucci, but is now looking to expand its non-watch business.

The plan is to add a further 8 outlets next year to the existing chain of 119. It has also declared its interest in buying H Samuel and Ernest Jones from Signet, although it has been rebuffed so far.

The company's broker ABN Amro Hoare Govett upgraded its full-year profit forecast to pounds 4.25m yesterday. That puts the shares on a forward rating of 16. About right.

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