International News - Signet targets US for expansion

The world's largest specialist jewellery retailer, Signet, is eyeing possible acquisitions in the US to strengthen its position in the country, according to chief executive Terry Burman.

Signet owns the H Samuel and Ernest Jones chains in the UK, but makes 70 per cent of its sales in the US. Burman said the company will consider any possibilities that suit its retail model and criteria.

The likelihood of acquisitions in the US, rather than the UK or other international markets, is because there are more areas in the US where the company does not have a presence, he said. 'We are not looking outside our existing markets. And any acquisition is more likely to be in the US,' said Burman.

Last week, Signet reported a 9 per cent increase in group pre-tax profits to£199.7 million for the 52 weeks ending February 1. Group sales rose by 2 per cent to£1.6 billion compared with the same period last year.

In the US, the group's operating profit rose 7 per cent at constant exchange rates, to stand at£155.2 million.

Signet's board recommended a 20 per cent increase in the final dividend after investing£121 million in fixed and working capital during the year.