Signet Jewelers, the nation’s largest jeweler and parent of Kay, Zales, Jared, Banter by Piercing Pagoda, James Allen, Diamonds Direct and others, just announced that its November through December 2021 holiday retail sales broke company records. Revenues grew 30% over last year and 33% over two-years ago to reach $2.4 billion.
Unfortunately, the Census Department is still processing the detail data, so we don’t have final jewelry retail figures to compare Signet’s performance against, but it’s safe to guess that Signet’s holiday performance will outpace the category as a whole. As strong as holiday 2021 was – retail sales overall grew 14.1% in the two-month period –Signet should handily outpace the jewelry retail category as a whole.
Not only is Signet the largest U.S. jewelry retailer, but CEO Gina Drosos is proud to say, “Our company leads the industry in innovation. That’s why we are the category leader, not just by virtue of our size, but by virtue of being the best: having the best people, the best products and the best capabilities.”
She’s got the numbers to back up those claims. Signet’s e-commerce sales in the U.S. rose 18% over last year and 85% compared to two years ago. Brick-and-mortar sales were up 34% to last year and 25% over two-years ago. Average transaction value grew by 16%, with total transactions rising 8% over previous year.
Throughout the past year, Drosos and her team have been executing a transformation plan called “Inspiring Brilliance” and it’s paying dividends now, not just by attracting new customers and engaging the old ones, but by inspiring brilliance among the company’s 26,000 employees.
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“The biggest part of our transformation is our cultural transformation,” she explains. “It’s how we get ourselves ready to be a company of the future. Our purpose of celebrating life and expressing love has been galvanizing for our teams.”
The company has also taken tangible steps to further its cultural transformation by raising the company’s minimum wage, improving its benefit plan without any additional costs to employees, and improving the working environment. And it’s been fortunate to attract new talent at all levels during 2021 when other retailers have lost it.
“We just got back an employee survey and found our team is at an all-time high level of engagement,” she shares. “I always think of the retail business from the store or the website back. The customer’s shopping experience is our moment of truth.”
Given the many challenges of operating a retail store during Covid, not to mention 2,800 of them, the company’s team has risen above and beyond expectations. For example, in addition to the company’s distribution center, frontline store staff can be called on to pull and ship e-commerce orders from the stocking store, as well as delivering orders curbside.
“We had excellent shipping this year, with over 97% of our orders received on or before the time we promised,” Drosos relates. She also shares that UPS, its primary supplier, found Signet shipping and delivery performance was among the best across the retail industry.
Also notable is Signet has cross-trained sales associates across brands, which helped keep stores operating as scheduled despite Omicron.
“We had some store closures because of illness, so if a Kay store was forced to be closed, a team from a close by Zales could keep the store open. It’s been a team effort through and through,” she exclaims.
And by leaning into technology, each store can adjust employee scheduling to make sure it has enough staff to serve customers when and where they are needed. Besides managing staffing, its connected commerce capabilities also manages inventory at the store level.
“It has greatly improving inventory turns. Customers this year found more than 30% more new items in our stores than just a year ago and our products are more on trend, so they are turning faster too,” Drosos says.
With two-thirds of its fourth quarter already in the rearview mirror, the company expects to close the year at $7.8 billion in revenues, up nearly 50% over previous year and 27% above $6.1 billion in 2019. Its expectation includes revenues from Diamonds Direct, a 22-store regional chain it closed mid-November 2021.
And right after closing fourth quarter, Signet looks forward to its next big holiday: Valentine’s Day. Drosos sees the wedding boom that is taking shape for 2022 will continue to bring engaged couples into its stores for engagement and wedding jewelry.
She also notes a Valentine’s Day gifting trend emerging from the past two years experience under Covid that will be good for business.
“Historically Valentine’s Day has been more for couples early on in their relationship whether dating or just engaged,” she shares. “But last year, we saw many husbands coming in to buy something really special for their wives and at higher price points. And husbands tend to shop a little earlier in the cycle than those just dating who shop more at the last minute.”
Whether or not the current fast pace of growth in the jewelry market continues, Drosos feels secure that Signet is well positioned to continue to move forward.
“Our mission of inspiring love is something that customers care about. People will always want to celebrate with those they love and jewelry is one of those categories that has enduring value,” she says and concludes, “We’ve been making big strides in building competitive advantages and I think we’ve barely scratched the surface of what we can become.”