Jewellery chain Signet moves primary listing to New York

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The Independent Online

Signet Group, the jewellery chain which includes H Samuel and Ernest Jones, is to move its primary listing from London to New York, and shift its domicile to Bermuda.

The change will involve the creation of a new parent company, to be called Signet Jewelers Limited. A secondary listing will remain in the UK. The plan is no reflection on the UK tax environment – which has caused controversy in the business community recently – but is the natural next step for a company which is increasingly dominated by its US trade, according to Signet.

More than 70 per cent of sales, profits and customers are now in the US, through the Kay and Jared brands, and nearly 50 per cent of the group's shareholders are also on the other side of the Atlantic.

Walker Boyd, Signet's group finance director, said: "As we increase our base in the US, which has been ongoing for a number of years, we believe there is a larger pool of investors over there who will be more familiar with our US brands and also who will understand the general economic market conditions – it is a natural evolution of how the business has developed."

The US is simply a bigger market. In the UK, annual jewellery spending is about $6.5bn (£3.3bn), while in the US it is a massive $65bn, partly because of the larger population, but also because Americans spend on average twice as much per person on jewellery.

The change to a New York listing has no implications for Signet's operating strategy in either of its main markets, and there should be little impact on existing UK shareholders. "One reason for having a secondary listing in London is so our small shareholders will still be able to view and trade through that market," Mr Boyd said.

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