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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Luxury Shoppers Drive Jewelry Sales

Just in time for the largest jewelry show in the U.S. to begin, luxury-jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co. said Thursday that its first-quarter profit more than doubled, with the return of high-end shoppers, MarketWatch reports.

Net income for the New York-based company surged to $64.4 million, from $24.3 million. Sales in the quarter rose 22 percent to $633.6 million. Comparable-store sales rose 10 percent.

Statement pieces over $50,000 rose for the second time in more than a year and saw the biggest percentage increase in jewelry, executives said on a conference call, the company said. Engagement pieces also rose for the second time in at least a year, helped by pent-up demand, while comparable sales in the company's top market U.S. increased for the second straight quarter after declining the past two years.

This piece of good news comes at a time when JCK shows in Las Vegas are set to begin, with Luxury by JCK (June 1-3), Swiss Watch by JCK (June 3-7) and JCK Las Vegas (June 4-7). Combined it is the largest jewelry show in the U.S. and one of the largest such shows in the world. Jewelry retailers in the U.S. use this event to buy product for the Christmas holiday season, the most important time of the year for these retailers.

A Tiffany spokesperson said the company will introduce a line of yellow diamond jewelry, expand the firm's watch business and will unveil a line of handbag and accessories this year. The company also is expanding its Internet sales and will launch its online business in Continental Europe this year.

Sales in the Americas increased a better-than-expected 22 percent to $315.3 million, compared with a 31 percent decline last year, MarketWatch reports. The number of transactions increased in all major product categories while traffic and average spending amount also were higher.

Jewelry retailer Signet Jewelers also saw its first-quarter profit nearly double, to $52 million year-over-year, according to The Street.

Signet revenue also rose 6 percent to $810 million, while same-store sales grew 5.8 percent. Sales at Signet's higher-end chain Jared The Galleria of Jewelry, jumped nearly 16 percent.

Even struggling Zale Corporation said on Wednesday that it narrow its third-quarter loss as margins improved and it was boosted by a tax benefit.

During the quarter, the more moderately priced jeweler lost $12.1 million compared with a loss of $19.5 million, year-over-year. Excluding the tax gain, Zale’s loss was much steeper.

Zale revenue declined 5 percent to $359.8 million, after the company shut down its supply chain in December in an effort to preserve liquidity, The Street reports. Zale did, however, see more items being sold at full price.

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