Goldsmiths to grow after sparkling year

Privately owned jeweller Goldsmiths is to resume expansion this year, on the back of strong trading in 2003.

Sales at the 166-store business for the year to December 24 increased by 6 per cent on a like-for-like basis, and by 8.2 per cent overall.

Goldsmiths has opened a handful of stores opportunistically over the past two years, including the Bullring outlet in Birmingham. However, chief executive Jurek Pias-ecki said 2004 will bring accelerated expansion. 'After two years of consolidation, plans are in place to resume our expansion and we are looking to open up to 10 stores,' he said.

Later this year, Goldsmiths will also launch new ranges of 18-carat gold and cut diamonds.

In the four weeks to Christmas Eve, Goldsmiths' like-for-like sales increased by 6.9 per cent and overall sales jumped by 10.5 per cent.

Piasecki said: 'We have seen strong demand for large- ticket items, but sales of lower-priced gold jewellery were disappointing.'

Ahead of the release of jewellery giant Signet's trading update, Seymour Pierce ana-lyst Richard Ratner said Goldsmiths' Christmas figures indicated that jewellery 'as a whole has bucked the trend' of retail generally.

However, Ratner warned that Signet, which has 70 per cent of its interests in the US, might be affected by adverse currency exchange rates.

Signet was due to release its figures as Retail Week went to press.