High-street sales get last-minute lift, but upmarket end suffers
Goldsmiths Group is a lone beacon of hope today, with a positive Christmas trading statement. The high street jeweller said that like-for-like sales had risen 0.4 per cent in the four week's trading up to New Year's Eve. Total sales increased by 3 per cent.

The retailer admitted that trading had been tough in the run-up to Christmas, but it had experienced a significant uplift in sales in the final week. Business also continued at a brisk pace in its post-Christmas Sale.

Goldsmiths chairman and chief executive Jurek Piasecki said: 'The company has never known such a late Christmas. We experienced a poor November and this pattern continued into early December. Fortunately, we saw a significant increase in the last week. Watches in particular were an outstanding success, but weakness was shown in diamonds and gold, with the exception of branded areas such as Gucci.'

Theo Fennell sales hit

Upmarket jeweller Theo Fennell has added to the post-Christmas gloom today with a downbeat trading statement. The retailer said that high-value sales had been disappointing over the festive period, particularly at its Fulham Road flagship store in west London.

The retailer said in a statement: 'Subject to a strong performance for the January Sales and the successful conclusion of an overseas franchise, which may be concluded during the current financial year, the company expects full-year results to show a modest profit, but below market expectations.'

Seymour Pierce analyst Richard Ratner reduced his year-end profit forecast for the retailer from£500,000 to£150,000. He said: 'Evidently, Theo Fennell is not the only upmarket jeweller to have suffered from the lack of big-ticket sales this Christmas. Even so, it is disappointing, given the work over the past three years to improve the focus of the merchandise ranges, the housekeeping, and developing wholesaling and licensing.'

In addition to its Fulham Road store, Theo Fennell operates a shop in the City of London and concessions at Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols' Manchester store. It also has a licensing agreement with Debenhams.