Leading jeweller Signet said its US operations, which account for the bulk of its sales, put in an “encouraging” first-quarter performance compared with the previous period.

Same-store sales fell 2.6 per cent Stateside in the 13 weeks to May 2, while in the UK like-for-likes slipped 4.2 per cent. Group sales fell 2.9 per cent like for like, and the total was down 7.3 per cent on a reported basis to $762.6m (£500.6m).

Signet chief executive Terry Burman said Valentine’s Day trading in the US was stronger than the rest of the period. The Kay chain achieved like-for-like growth but “the general weakness in spending among households with above-average incomes” hit Jared stores.

Burman said that, in the UK, performance had become weaker towards the end of the quarter.
He said the business had benefited from “focus on customer service, staff training and merchandising initiatives”, and H Samuel had been “comparatively resilient”.

Citi analyst Ben Spruntulis said: “A combination of better than expected trading, good cost control, further capacity withdrawal and an improved net-debt outlook drives our enthusiasm for the shares.”