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Jewellery retailer Signet confirms 10% rise in Q1

Jun '05
World's largest specialty jewlry retailer Signet Group plc announces its first quarter results for the 13 week period from 30 January to 30 April 2005. These results are reported under International Financial Reporting Standards ('IFRS'), see note 8 for details.

Group profit before tax was £27.9 million (Q1 2004/05: £26.1 million), up by 9.4% at constant exchange rates (see note 7 for reconciliation). On a reported basis the increase was 6.9% reflecting a weakening of the average US dollar rate to £1/$1.89 from £1/$1.84 in the comparable period last year. Like for like sales rose by 3.3%.

Total sales were £369.2 million (Q1 2004/05: £351.9 million), up by 7.0% at constant exchange rates and by 4.9% on a reported basis.

Operating profit at £29.5 million (Q1 2004/05: £28.2 million) increased by 7.3% at constant exchange rates and by 4.6% on a reported basis. Operating margin was unchanged at 8.0%, while gross margin was up slightly compared to the same quarter last year. The tax rate was 34.4% (Q1 2004/05: 36.4%). Earnings per share rose by 10.0% to 1.1p (Q1 2004/05: 1.0p).

United States (circa 70% of Group annual sales)
Operating profit at £31.4 million (Q1 2004/05: £27.1 million) was up by 18.9% at constant exchange rates and by 15.9% on a reported basis. The operating margin increased to 11.3% (Q1 2004/05: 10.6%), principally due to operating leverage from the increase in like for like sales.

Like for like sales rose by 7.1%, although up against particularly strong prior year comparatives. Total sales increased by 11.6% at constant exchange rates and by 8.6% on a reported basis to £277.9 million (Q1 2004/05: £255.8 million). Gross margin was broadly in line with the first quarter in 2004/05. This reflected anticipated mix changes and commodity cost increases offset by a range of management initiatives, including selective action on selling prices.

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