Jewelry and diamond retailer, Zale Corp., said Thursday that same store sales increased 2.3 percent for the combined months of November and December 2012, encompassing the entire holiday selling period. This increase falls short of the 5.9 percent rise in same store sales for the same period last year. At constant exchange rates, which exclude the effect of translating Canadian currency denominated sales into U.S. dollars, comparable store sales increased 1.6 percent for the holiday selling period, compared to an increase of 6.2 percent in the prior year period.
Revenues for the two-month period were $567 million, an increase of $3 million compared to $564 million in the same period last year. The increase in revenues is primarily due to the same store sales growth partially offset by revenues associated with the net decrease of 50 stores compared to last year.
“This holiday season, we focused on driving bottom line improvement,” said Theo Killion, Zale Corp. CEO. “Our comp performance, combined with an expected 100 basis point operating margin improvement, brings us closer to our goal of achieving positive net income for the fiscal year.”
Holiday selling period same store sales details are as follows:
* Zales branded stores, consisting of Zales Jewelers and Zales Outlet, posted an increase of 3.1 percent, compared to an increase of 10 percent in the same period last year. U.S. fine jewelry brands including regional brand, Gordon’s Jewelers, posted an increase of 2.2 percent. In the same period last year. U.S. fine jewelry brands same store sales rose 9 percent for the 2011 holiday season.
* Canadian Fine Jewelry brands, consisting of Peoples Jewellers and Mappins Jewellers, posted a same store sales increase of 2.7 percent. This increase follows a 0.2 percent rise in the same period last year. At constant exchange rates, Canadian Fine Jewelry brands posted a comparable store sales decline of 0.7 percent, compared to an increase of 1.7 percent in the prior year period.
* Piercing Pagoda, Zale Corp.’s kiosk Jewelry business, posted a same store sales increase of 1.7 percent, compared to a declined 2.1 percent for the 2011 holiday season.
In its outlook for the quarter ending January 31, Zale Corp. said it expects gross margin to be in line with the prior year quarter’s gross margin of 50.5 percent. Operating margin is expected to be approximately 7.5 percent, or 100 basis points higher than the prior year quarter, primarily as a result of improved leverage on selling, general and administrative expenses.
As previously announced, the company expects to achieve positive net income for fiscal year 2013.
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