Jewellery chain Signet has reported its full year results have “exceeded expectations” buoyed by sales in the UK in the fourth quarter.

The retailer, owner of H Samuel and Ernest Jones in the UK, reported same store sales down 0.4% in the year to January 30. However, for the fourth quarter same store sales were up 5.1%.

Underlying profit before taxes is up 13.7% for the year to $228.4m, and total sales were down 1.6% to $3,290.7m. For the fourth quarter, total sales were up 7.1% to $1,203.6m, and underlying profit before taxes was up 21.4% to $174m.

Chief executive Terry Burman said: “We are pleased with our fiscal 2010 results, which were ahead of our January expectations and substantially exceeded our objectives set at the start of the year.”

In the UK, same store sales fell 2.4% and total sales declined 9.3% to $733.2m. Operating profit fell 21% to $56.5m.

In the first three quarters of the 2010 financial year same store sales fell 3%. In the fourth quarter, same store sales fell 1.5%. The average unit selling price rose, reflecting price increases implemented to offset a rise in the cost of goods sold. Value items and the charm bracelet category performed well.

In the 2011 financial year, Signet will focus on improving staff scheduling and reducing property costs.

In the first seven weeks of the year, same store sales overall were up 6.4%. In the UK, same store sales were down 0.1%, with Ernest Jones driving the better performance.