Aurum chairman Don McCarthy has insisted that the future of the jewellery group is secure and said the retailer has outperformed the beleaguered jewellery sector.

McCarthy told Retail Week that the group, which comprises Goldsmiths, Mappin & Webb and Watches of Switzerland was “trading well above budget”. Like-for-likes in its new financial year so far are flat.

Earlier this year, Aurum drafted in Ernst & Young to conduct a review of the business (Retail Week, January 30). The result of the review has led to a number of redundancies at the group. The retailer will also closely monitor its stock levels and introduce further cost-cutting measures.

McCarthy, who is also a Baugur director, said that Aurum was in refinancing talks and had “great support” from its banks, which include Bank of Scotland, Landsbanki and Glitnir.

He said that there was “absolutely no way” the management is considering a break up of the group following Ernst & Young’s review.

McCarthy also struck out against claims that the jewellery group is set for pre-pack administration.

He said: “If someone wishes to make a bid for the business then please do so via the proper route.”

However, McCarthy added that the business is not up for sale. “There is definitely no talk of a pre-pack or administration,” he said. “The strength of any business is on its performance.”

His comments followed reports that former Goldsmiths boss Jurek Piasecki was interested in buying the Piasecki business.

He is thought to have approached administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers, who control a 38 per cent stake in Aurum on behalf of Landsbanki after the nationalised Icelandic bank forced Baugur’s UK arm into administration in February.

The administrator also controls Baugur’s stakes in Iceland, House of Fraser and Hamleys. Aurum was quick to distance itself from Baugur following the company’s spectacular collapse.

McCarthy said its association with Baugur and the collapse of other former Baugur-backed retailers such as Mosaic “creates sensitivity”.

He said: “Speculation about pre-pack administrations or administrations causes distress for people
in the business and those with a vested interest.”

Aurum has 185 stores and employs 2,100 staff. In the year to January 2008 turnover rose 7.7 per cent to£261.7m and pre-tax profits were£800,000 – up£10.4m from a loss of£9.6m the previous year.

Baugur director Gunnar Sigurdsson has resigned from the board of Aurum, according to figures filed at Companies House on Wednesday.