Signet's sales held up by UK demand

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The Independent Online

Signet, the jewellery retailer which includes the H Samuel and Ernest Jones chains, provided further evidence of the boom in consumer spending yesterday when it reported a surge in UK sales.

The company said underlying UK sales in the three months to 28 July were up by 9.3 per cent on the previous year. The figures are amongst the strongest reported recently by any British retailer.

The more upmarket Ernest Jones chain was the best performer with a 17 per cent surge in like-for-like sales.

H Samuel, whose stores are aimed at the mid-market, saw underlying sales rise by 5 per cent.

However, a declining performance at Signet's American division dragged overall like-for-like sales increase in the period to just 0.1 per cent.

The American chains, which include Kays and Jared, saw like-for-like sales fall by 3.4 per cent in the second quarter.

Terry Burman, Signet's chief executive, said: "Despite the UK business' relatively smaller size, its strong sales performance more than made up for the negative impact on like-for-like sales of the difficult US trading environment."

Richard Ratner, retail analyst at Seymour Pierce is keeping his full-year profit forecast unchanged at £170m. The shares fell 0.75p to 78.5p.

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