Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Signet shines up listing for US investors

August 22, 2008

diamond-ring.jpgSoon, Signet will move its primary stock exchange listing to the New York Stock Exchange and may attract more investors to an already strong base. Signet who, you ask? They are known best as the operators of the Kay Jewelers chain and Jared The Galleria of Jewelry stores in the United States.

For Signet, sales trends in the United States are a bit different from those in the United Kingdom, according to the company. Predictably, U.S. sales peak around the year-end holidays, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, though British shoppers are not keen jewelry buyers for the latter two holidays . Also, U.S. consumers are more into buying anniversary jewelry and upgrading engagement rings throughout the year. In the UK? Not so much.

These days, the greatest difference between jewelry brands may be the shopping experience and not necessarily the value of the diamonds their customers covet. (Of course, you need cash to buy those earrings, to begin with.) 

If you have a few thousand in hand and could do with an upscale, luxurious shopping experience, walk into a Tiffany or Harry Winston store. If those dollars are sparse, but you still want to try on those earrings before buying them, there are the Kay and Zale stores for you. But if you want that peaceful, easy feeling, (i.e. spend zilch on gas and avoid crowds) – open a new Web page and shop online. 

Online shopping has become critical, even for jewelers. But not all of them have realized the importance of an inviting Web site. Tiffany has revamped its Web site. Blue Nile, on the other end, has no stores and sells its jewelry purely online. 

Signet? About 55 percent of their stores are in malls, while their online retail sales are not significant, according to the jeweler. The company is still seeing its shoppers head to stores for baubles and they are willing to pay a premium for in-store service.

Signet derives about 75 percent of its sales from the United States and has a strong investor base here — explaining the primary listing move to the NYSE, scheduled to take effect on Sept. 11. The company  intends to keep a secondary listing in London.

(Photo of eclipse: Reuters)

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