Jewellery giant Signet hopes to build market share, leading to a stronger second half, after weaker than expected sales in its second quarter.

Group like-for-likes fell 5.3% in the 13 weeks to August 1, bringing the first-half decline to 4%.

Signet chief executive Terry Burman said the outlook in the UK and US – which accounts for most of its business – remains uncertain. “The group will continue to seek to capitalise on market share opportunities with a strong focus on customer service and merchandise initiatives,” he said.

The retailer may have an opportunity to achieve that fairly quickly, noted Investec analyst David Jeary. “Only yesterday (August 5), a competitor, Finlay, went into Chapter 11. Finlay was trading from about 180 locations, with a further 77 licensed departments with Bon-Ton. Another Chicago-based regional player, Ultra, has recently emerged from Chapter 11 having shed a net 30 stores to trade now from circa 170 stores.”

Jeary said: “The next signal will be how Signet anniversaries the major step-down in like-for-like sales that occurred in September 2008.”

Signet’s UK sales, which account for about 20% of the group’s total, fell 4.3% in the second quarter. Its more upmarket UK chain Ernest Jones suffered a like-for-like sales fall of 6.2% while mid-market chain H Samuel’s comparable sales fell 2.5% for the period.

As of August 1 Signet operated 1,952 jewellery shops, of which 1,396 are in the US.