Jewellery group Signet delivered first-quarter results ahead of expectations. However, a more “challenging” economic climate in the UK than in the US led like-for-like sales in Britain to dip 0.2%.

Total sales at Signet’s UK arm, including H Samuel and Ernest Jones, rose 3.8% to $142.9m (£97.2m) in the 13 weeks to May 1. Group sales, including the US, rose 6.2% and delivered an 85.5% leap in pre-tax profit to $76.8m (£52.3m).

Signet investor relations director Tim Jackson said the UK has been more difficult than the US in “comparable terms”. He said: “There was election uncertainty, which has now been extended through to the Budget and how it will affect income and ability to spend.”

Ernest Jones’s total sales climbed 7% in the quarter. Jackson said the “middle- to upper-income shopper” has begun to recover since last year.

A similar pattern has already been experienced by Signet in the US, said Investec analyst David Jeary. He added: “The more upper-middle market format Ernest Jones outperformed the more mid-market format H Samuel, reflecting the pattern seen in the US, where Jared massively outperformed the mall brands.”