Signet Jewelers Loses Its Luster; Plans To Close Some 400 Stores

Signet Jewelers, the parent company of some of the best-known jewelry chains — including Kay Jewelers, Zales and Jared — plans to permanently close nearly 400 stores.

In a statement announcing its first-quarter results on Tuesday (June 9), the Hamilton, Bermuda-based company reported its stores had strong sales in February for Valentine’s Day. 

But for the three months that ended May 2 — the period when the majority of stores were shut because of coronavirus — total sales fell by more than 40 percent to $852 million in the U.S., United Kingdom and Canada. That’s down from $1.4 billion for the same period last year. 

Its operating loss swelled to $291 million, 34 percent of sales, up from $2.6 million, or 0.2 percent of sales one year ago.

The one bright spot was online sales, which increased to $164.7 million, a 6.7 percent rise over a year ago, the company said.

At the start of the year, Signet operated 2,900 stores in every state sporting about a dozen names. In the U.K., Signet has 500 stores under the name brands of H. Samuel and Ernest Jones.  Signet also has more than 150 stores in Canada, mostly under the name Peoples Jewellers. Signet also operates

The company temporarily shuttered 150 stores in the U.S. and Canada and 80 in the U.K. during the pandemic. But Signet said another 150 stores will close by the end of the fiscal year.

Last month, the chain began a staggered re-opening of stores. More than 1,100 stores are open, and the company called their performance encouraging with week-over-week sales improvements in those stores. 

CEO Virginia Drosos put the best face on the results.

“Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we have prioritized the health and safety of our team members and customers with every decision we make,” Drosos said in a release.  “… We are gathering valuable insights on customer behaviors and plan to use these learnings to enhance our competitive advantage and emerge stronger from the crisis with optimized virtual and physical footprints to meet our customers where and how they choose to shop.”