Global sales at retail jeweller Signet fell 7.3 per cent to $762.6m (£472.9m) in the 13 weeks to May 2, with same-store sales down 2.9 per cent.

The UK division – representing about a third of Signet’s operations – made an operating loss of Story text.3m (£806,096). UK like-for-likes fell 4.2 per cent. The upscale Ernest Jones fascia bore the brunt of the decline as sales tumbled 6.7 per cent, while at H Samuel they dipped 2 per cent.

Signet reported that “selective price increases” offset the rise in the price of gold during the period, but that it expected a modest margin decline next year.

Investec broker David Jeary labelled the shares a buy, although he noted that a “potential downside” risk to gross margin still exists if gold prices continue at their present high levels. Citi also rated the stock a buy, because of “good cost control” and “an improved net debt outlook”.