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Jeweller reports glittering sales

The group behind the Mappin & Webb, Goldsmiths and Watches of Switzerland retail jewellery chains defied the dire weather to achieve sparkling Christmas sales.

Aurum Holdings said that, based on its "outstanding" performance, it expected to deliver a "substantial" increase in underlying earnings for the year to 30 January. Despite the heavy snowfall last month, Aurum's like-for-like sales jumped by 14.5 per cent over the five weeks to 9 January. Online sales rose by 53 per cent, boosted by relaunched transactional websites for Mappin & Webb and Goldsmiths.

Justin Stead, the chief executive, said the buoyant Christmas performance was driven by improved product availability and ranges, and an enhanced gems offering. Group sales rose by 16 per cent over the 49 weeks to 9 January. "Our Christmas success, despite difficult trading conditions due to the snow, is proof that our successful strategy to improve both product availability and ranges across our watch and jewellery offers is working well," Mr Stead said.

Of Aurum's three brands, Goldsmiths was the star performer. It achieved a 19 per cent rise in underlying sales, while the increase at Mappin & Webb was 11 per cent. Aurum said the less spectacular 1 per cent uplift at Watches of Switzerland was because its major city and airport locations suffered a bigger fall in trade during the cold snap. Aurum expects its earnings for the year to 30 January to beat last year's £10.5m.