Ratners rings the changes

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The Independent Online
THIS is the new brand name and retail image that the Ratners jewellery chain hopes will revive its fortunes. Called 'Equa', the new identity is being test-marketed at three stores opened last week in Peterborough (above), Norwich and Swindon.

The Ratners Group, recently renamed Signet, hopes the new concept, which designers acknowledge borrows much from leading clothes retailers, will help stem the sales dive that followed the description by ex- chairman Gerald Ratner of one of his products as 'total crap'.

The project will operate alongside two other experiments that began in the summer, testing the appeal of the names Kudos and Saquis. The success of all three will be assessed in the light of their performance up to Christmas.

The new-look stores were conceived after it became apparent that group stores less associated with the Ratners name were performing better than others. In September's interim results, Ernest Jones and H Samuel stores registered their first sales increases since 1990, while turnover in the Ratners chain continued to fall. The number of Ratners shops has already been cut from 250 to 140, and is expected to fall to 60 within a year.

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