XNYS:SIG Signet Jewelers Ltd Annual Report 10-K Filing - 1/28/2012

Effective Date 1/28/2012

XNYS:SIG (Signet Jewelers Ltd): Fair Value Estimate
Premium
XNYS:SIG (Signet Jewelers Ltd): Consider Buying
Premium
XNYS:SIG (Signet Jewelers Ltd): Consider Selling
Premium
XNYS:SIG (Signet Jewelers Ltd): Fair Value Uncertainty
Premium
XNYS:SIG (Signet Jewelers Ltd): Economic Moat
Premium
XNYS:SIG (Signet Jewelers Ltd): Stewardship
Premium
 
Table of Contents

 

 

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

 

FORM 10-K

 

 

 

x Annual report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934

For the fiscal year ended January 28, 2012

Commission file number 1-32349

 

 

SIGNET JEWELERS LIMITED

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

 

Bermuda   Not Applicable
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation)   (I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)

Clarendon House

2 Church Street

Hamilton HM11

Bermuda

(441) 296 5872

(Address and telephone number including area code of principal executive offices)

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of Each Class

 

Name of Each Exchange on which Registered

Common Shares of $0.18 each   The New York Stock Exchange

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

 

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes  x    No  ¨

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.    Yes  ¨    No  x

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes  x    No  ¨

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate web site, if any, every interactive data file required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).    Yes  x    No  ¨

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained to the best of Registrant’s knowledge in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  x

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or a smaller reporting company.

Large accelerated filer  x        Accelerated filer  ¨        Non-accelerated filer  ¨        Smaller reporting company  ¨

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes  ¨    No  x

The aggregate market value of voting common shares held by non-affiliates of the Registrant (based upon the closing sales price quoted on the New York Stock Exchange) as of July 31, 2011 was $ 3,709,491,748.

Number of common shares outstanding on March 15, 2012: 87,182,055

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

The Registrant will incorporate by reference information required in response to Part III, Items 10-14, in its definitive proxy statement for its annual meeting of shareholders, to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days of January 28, 2012.

 

 

 


Table of Contents

REFERENCES

Unless the context otherwise requires, references to “Signet,” refer to Signet Jewelers Limited (and before September 11, 2008 to Signet Group plc) and its consolidated subsidiaries. References to the “Company” are to Signet Jewelers Limited. References to “Predecessor Company” are to Signet Group plc prior to the reorganization that was effected on September 11, 2008, and financial and other results and statistics for Fiscal 2008 and prior periods relate to Signet prior to such reorganization.

PRESENTATION OF FINANCIAL INFORMATION

All references to “dollars,” “US dollars,” “$,” “cents” and “c” are to the lawful currency of the United States of America. Signet prepares its financial statements in US dollars. All references to “pounds,” “pounds sterling,” “sterling,” “£,” “pence,” and “p” are to the lawful currency of the United Kingdom.

Percentages in tables have been rounded and accordingly may not add up to 100%. Certain financial data may have been rounded. As a result of such rounding, the totals of data presented in this document may vary slightly from the actual arithmetical totals of such data.

Throughout this Annual Report on Form 10-K, financial data has been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“GAAP”). However, Signet gives certain additional non-GAAP measures in order to provide increased insight into the underlying or relative performance of the business. An explanation of each non-GAAP measure used can be found in Item 6.

Fiscal Year

Signet’s fiscal year ends on the Saturday nearest to January 31. As used herein, “Fiscal 2014,” “Fiscal 2013,” “Fiscal 2012,” “Fiscal 2011,” “Fiscal 2010” and “Fiscal 2009” refer to the 52 week period ending February 1, 2014, the 53 week period ending February 2, 2013, and the 52 week periods ending January 28, 2012, January 29, 2011, January 30, 2010 and January 31, 2009, respectively. As used herein, “Fiscal 2007” refers to the 53 week period ending February 3, 2007, “Fiscal 2008,” and “Fiscal 2006” refer to the 52 week periods ending February 2, 2008 and January 28, 2006, respectively.

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains statements which are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements, based upon management’s beliefs and expectations as well as on assumptions made by and data currently available to management, appear in a number of places throughout this Annual Report on Form 10-K and include statements regarding, among other things, Signet’s results of operation, financial condition, liquidity, prospects, growth, strategies and the industry in which Signet operates. The use of the words “expects,” “intends,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “believes,” “should,” “potential,” “may,” “forecast,” “objective,” “plan,” or “target,” and other similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to general economic conditions, the merchandising, pricing and inventory policies followed by Signet, the reputation of Signet and its brands, the level of competition in the jewelry sector, the cost and availability of diamonds, gold and other precious metals, regulations relating to consumer credit, seasonality of Signet’s business, financial market risks, deterioration in consumers’ financial condition, exchange rate fluctuations, changes in consumer attitudes regarding jewelry, management of social, ethical and environmental risks, security breaches and other disruptions to Signet’s information technology infrastructure and databases, inadequacy in and disruptions to internal controls and systems, changes in assumptions used in making accounting estimates relating to items such as extended service plans and pensions, and risks relating to Signet being a Bermuda corporation.

For a discussion of these risks and other risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in any forward looking statement, see Item 1A and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Signet undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances, except as required by law.

 

2


Table of Contents

SIGNET JEWELERS LIMITED

FISCAL 2012 ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

          PAGE  

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

     2   
   PART I   

ITEM 1.

   BUSINESS      4   

ITEM 1A.

   RISK FACTORS      27   

ITEM 1B.

   UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS      35   

ITEM 2.

   PROPERTIES      35   

ITEM 3.

   LEGAL PROCEEDINGS      37   

ITEM 4.

   MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE      37   
   PART II   

ITEM 5.

  

MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

     38   

ITEM 6.

   SELECTED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL DATA      44   

ITEM 7.

  

MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

     51   

ITEM 7A.

   QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK      76   

ITEM 8.

   FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA      78   

ITEM 9.

  

CHANGES IN AND DISAGREEMENTS WITH ACCOUNTANTS ON ACCOUNTING AND FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE

     117   

ITEM 9A.

   CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES      117   

ITEM 9B.

   OTHER INFORMATION      118   
   PART III   

ITEM 10.

   DIRECTORS, EXECUTIVE OFFICERS AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE      119   

ITEM 11.

   EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION      119   

ITEM 12.

  

SECURITY OWNERSHIP OF CERTAIN BENEFICIAL OWNERS AND MANAGEMENT AND RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS

     119   

ITEM 13.

  

CERTAIN RELATIONSHIPS AND RELATED TRANSACTIONS, AND DIRECTOR INDEPENDENCE

     119   

ITEM 14.

   PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTING FEES AND SERVICES      119   
   PART IV   

ITEM 15.

   EXHIBITS, FINANCIAL STATEMENT SCHEDULES      120   

 

3


Table of Contents

PART I

 

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

OVERVIEW

Signet is the largest specialty retail jeweler by sales in the US and UK, and also has stores in the Republic of Ireland and Channel Islands. Signet is incorporated in Bermuda and its address and telephone number are shown on the cover of this document. Its corporate website is www.signetjewelers.com, from where documents that the Company is obliged to file or furnish with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) may be viewed or downloaded free of charge.

On September 11, 2008, Signet Group plc became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Signet Jewelers Limited, a new company incorporated in Bermuda under the Companies Act 1981 of Bermuda, following the completion of a scheme of arrangement approved by the High Court of Justice in England and Wales under the UK Companies Act 2006. Shareholders of Signet Group plc became shareholders of Signet Jewelers Limited, owning 100% of that company. Signet Jewelers Limited is governed by the laws of Bermuda.

Effective January 31, 2010, Signet became a foreign issuer subject to the rules and regulations of the US Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) applicable to domestic US issuers. Prior to this date, Signet was a foreign private issuer and filed with the SEC its annual report on Form 20-F.

Signet’s US division operated 1,318 stores in all 50 states at January 28, 2012. Its stores trade nationally in malls and off-mall locations as Kay Jewelers (“Kay”), and regionally under a number of well-established mall-based brands. Destination superstores trade nationwide as Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry (“Jared”). Based on publicly available data, Signet’s US division was the largest specialty jeweler in the US in calendar 2011 with sales approximately twice those of the next biggest such retailer.

The UK division’s stores trade as “H.Samuel,” “Ernest Jones,” and “Leslie Davis,” and are situated in prime ‘High Street’ locations (main shopping thoroughfares with high pedestrian traffic) or major shopping malls. The UK division operated 535 stores at January 28, 2012, including 14 stores in the Republic of Ireland and three in the Channel Islands. Based on publicly filed accounts, Signet’s UK division was the largest specialty retailer of fine jewelry in the UK with sales in calendar 2010 almost twice those of the next biggest such retailer.

Operating principles

Management’s goal is to build long-term value by focusing on providing a superior in-store customer experience and merchandise selection, in high quality real estate locations. Effective advertising supported by an above-industry-average marketing expense to sales ratio is designed to attract customers into Signet’s stores. In addition, the operating principles that help management achieve these goals are:

 

   

excellence in execution;

 

   

testing before investing;

 

   

continuous improvement; and

 

   

disciplined investment.

Operational execution

The expression of romance and appreciation, for example through bridal jewelry and gift giving, remain very important human needs, as is self reward. Satisfying those needs is central to driving sales. As a result, the training of sales associates to better understand the customer’s requirements, communicate the value of the merchandise selected and ‘close the sale,’ remains a high priority. Management also increases the attraction of

 

4


Table of Contents

Signet’s store brands to customers through the use of branded differentiated and exclusive merchandise, while offering a compelling value proposition in more basic ranges. Signet accomplishes this by utilizing its supply chain and merchandising expertise, scale and balance sheet strength. In addition, management intends to leverage national television advertising, digital media and customer relationship marketing, which it believes are the most effective and cost efficient forms of marketing available, to grow its leading share of relevant marketing messages (“share of voice”).

STRATEGY AND FINANCIAL OBJECTIVES

Fiscal 2012 was an outstanding year for Signet, with sales up 9.1% and net operating income up 36.2%. Our mission is to further enhance Signet’s position as the market leader in both the US and the UK specialty retail jewelry markets by offering a unique customer experience and driving customer loyalty.

Our strategic imperatives are to:

 

   

Develop and train our team members to consistently enhance the retail experience of our customers.

 

   

Grow and develop new and existing brands and categories to delight customers.

 

   

Drive competitive strengths and infrastructure to enable growth.

 

   

Optimize the capital structure to manage risk and make investments to drive long-term shareholder value.

 

   

Increase market share and maximize sustainable profit levels.

In setting the financial objectives for Fiscal 2013, consideration was given to the current operating environment, with the developments in the US and UK economies continuing to be divergent. The US economy is showing signs of strengthening and in Fiscal 2012, there was growth in the jewelry market. Signet plans to capitalize on our US market leading position and continue to make strategic investments for the future. In the UK market, Signet expects to continue our leadership performance. The UK economic environment is not projected to show any short-term improvement, however, Signet plans to make investments to support and grow the business. Both the US and UK economies could be adversely impacted by developments in the eurozone.

Signet’s goal in Fiscal 2013 is to deliver record results building on our recent performance, while making strategic investments necessary for future growth.

In Fiscal 2013, management’s financial objectives for the business are to:

 

   

Increase sales and gain profitable market share.

 

   

Achieve a gross margin rate broadly similar to Fiscal 2012, by offsetting commodity cost increases through improved store productivity and pricing.

 

   

Increase advertising expenditure and support new initiatives, while at a minimum maintaining the selling, general and administrative expense to sales ratio.

 

   

Invest $145 million to $165 million of capital in new stores and enhancing infrastructure to drive future growth.

Management anticipates that the gross margin ratio will benefit from improved store productivity and price increases, which are expected to primarily offset the impact of changes in commodity costs, in particular the cost of diamonds and gold. Signet expects to invest $5 million to $7 million in Fiscal 2013 to drive future supply chain capabilities. Signet expects to leverage store occupancy expenses and maintain a strong performance in our credit portfolio.

 

5


Table of Contents

In selling, general and administrative expenses, management plans: to increase advertising to drive additional sales and continue to build customer equity in our store concepts and merchandise brands; to support new initiatives, particularly in digital media and customer finance decision analysis; while tightly managing other support expenses and flexing store expenses, as appropriate, with sales.

In Fiscal 2013, capital investment of $145 million to $165 million will be directed to projects that are intended to build competitive strengths and drive sales growth. Signet plans to increase the number of store openings in the US to 45 (Fiscal 2012: 25) and remodel and/or relocate 110 stores across both divisions (Fiscal 2012: 85 stores). The level of store investment in Fiscal 2013 is planned to be $95 million to $105 million (Fiscal 2012: $62.0 million). In addition, it is planned to invest $40 million to $45 million (Fiscal 2012: $28.0 million) in information systems, supporting sales-enhancing technology, both in-store and in the digital environment, and to enhance its information technology operating infrastructure.

The Board believes that long-term shareholder value can be enhanced by using the cash resources, beyond those necessary to meet the investment needs of the business and to maintain the competitive strength of the balance sheet, to return additional value to shareholders. Reflecting the Board’s confidence in the strength of the business, the ability to fund the planned investment in growth initiatives, and its commitment to building long-term shareholder value, the Board commenced paying a quarterly dividend in the third quarter of Fiscal 2012 of $0.10 per share, which has been increased for the first quarter of Fiscal 2013 to $0.12 per share. The Board also authorized a $300 million share repurchase program that commenced on January 16, 2012.

MEDIUM TERM OUTLOOK

The strategy continues to be to build profitable market share for each of Signet’s leading store brands by focusing on best in class customer service, great marketing campaigns that build on the store brand’s leading share of voice, further development of branded products that differentiate our stores from our competitors, and, in the US, the provision of proprietary customer finance programs particularly tailored to the needs of a jewelry customer.

Management believes that Signet’s operating divisions have the opportunity to take advantage of their competitive positions to grow sales and increase store productivity. Sales growth allows the business to strengthen relationships with suppliers, facilitates the ability to develop further branded differentiated and exclusive merchandise, improves the efficiency of its supply chain, supports marketing expense and improves operating margins. Management also believes that Signet’s strong balance sheet, financial flexibility and superior operating margins allow us to take advantage of investment opportunities, including space growth and strategic developments that meet management’s demanding return criteria.

BACKGROUND

Business segment

Signet’s results derive from one business segment – the retailing of jewelry, watches and associated services. The business is managed as two geographical operating divisions: the US division (approximately 80% of sales) and the UK division (approximately 20% of sales). Both divisions are managed by executive committees, which report through divisional Chief Executives to Signet’s Chief Executive Officer, who reports to the Board of Directors of Signet (the “Board”). Each divisional executive committee is responsible for operating decisions within parameters established by the Board.

Detailed financial information about both divisions is found in Note 2 of Item 8.

Trademarks and trade names

Signet is not dependent on any material patents or licenses in either the US or the UK. However, it does have several well-established trademarks and trade names which are significant in maintaining its reputation and competitive position in the jewelry retailing industry. These registered trademarks and trade names include the

 

6


Table of Contents

following in Signet’s US operations: Kay Jewelers; Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry; JB Robinson Jewelers; Marks & Morgan Jewelers; Belden Jewelers; Shaw’s Jewelers; Osterman Jewelers; Weisfield Jewelers; LeRoy’s Jewelers; Rogers Jewelers; Goodman Jewelers; Friedlander’s Jewelers; Every kiss begins with Kay; the Leo Diamond; Peerless Diamond; Hearts Desire; Perfect Partner; and Charmed Memories. Trademarks and trade names include the following in Signet’s UK operations: H.Samuel; Ernest Jones; Leslie Davis; Forever Diamonds; and Perfect Partner.

The value of Signet’s trademarks and trade names are material, but in accordance with US GAAP, are not reflected on its balance sheet. Their value is maintained and increased by Signet’s expenditure on training of its sales associates, marketing and store investment.

Seasonality

Signet’s sales are seasonal, with the first and second quarters each normally accounting for slightly more than 20% of annual sales, the third quarter a little under 20% and the fourth quarter for about 40% of sales, with December being by far the most important month of the year. Sales made in November and December are known as the “Holiday Season.” Due to sales leverage, Signet’s operating income is even more seasonal, with nearly all of the UK division’s, and about 40% to 50% of the US division’s operating income normally occurring in the fourth quarter. Selling, general and administrative costs are spread more evenly over the fiscal year.

Employees

In Fiscal 2012, the average number of full-time equivalent persons employed was 16,555 (US: 13,224; UK: 3,331). Signet usually employs a limited number of temporary employees during its fourth quarter. None of Signet’s employees in the UK and less than 1% of Signet’s employees in the US are covered by collective bargaining agreements. Signet considers its relationship with its employees to be excellent.

 

     Year ended  
     Fiscal 2012      Fiscal 2011      Fiscal 2010  

Average number of employees(1)

        

US

     13,224         12,803         12,596   

UK

     3,331         3,426         3,724   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total

     16,555         16,229         16,320   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

(1) Full-time equivalent.

US DIVISION

US market

Calendar 2010 estimates are used by Signet to understand the size and structure of the US jewelry market as the provisional estimates for calendar 2011 available at the time of filing have historically been subject to frequent and sometimes large revisions.

Total US jewelry sales, including watches and fashion jewelry, are estimated by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (“BEA”) to have been $61.5 billion in calendar 2010 in their February 2012 data release. The US jewelry market has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 4.4% over the last 25 years to calendar 2010. While Signet’s major competitors are other specialty jewelers, Signet also faces competition from other retailers that sell jewelry including department stores, discount stores, apparel outlets and internet retailers. Management believes that the jewelry category competes with other sectors, such as electronics, clothing and furniture, as well as travel and restaurants for consumers’ discretionary spending, particularly with regard to gift giving, but less so with regard to bridal (engagement, wedding and anniversary) jewelry.

 

7


Table of Contents

In calendar 2010, the US jewelry market grew by an estimated 5.7% (source: BEA, February 2012). The specialty jewelry sector is estimated to have grown by 3.8% to $26.7 billion in calendar 2010 (source: US Census Bureau, February 2012). The specialty sector saw a decrease in market share to 43.4% in calendar 2010 from 44.2% in calendar 2009. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that, in calendar 2010, there were 22,750 jewelry stores in the US (2009: 23,770), a reduction of 4.3% over the prior year.

The US division’s share of the specialty jewelry market was 10.3% in calendar 2010 (calendar 2009: 9.9%), based on the estimate by the US Census Bureau of specialty jewelry store sales.

US Competitive Strengths

Customer experience and human resources

The customer experience, in particular, the ability of the sales associate to explain the merchandise and its value, is essential to most jewelry purchases

 

   

Centrally prepared training materials are used by all stores to help ensure a consistently high level of customer service.

 

   

All store managers are required to be certified diamontologists, so as to provide expert knowledge to customers.

 

   

The US division employs almost 5,000 certified diamontologists.

 

   

Measurable daily store standards provide sales associates with clear performance targets.

 

   

Each store receives a monthly customer experience report helping to identify opportunities to improve customer service.

 

   

Expansion of sales-enhancing technology, both in-store and in the digital environment.

Merchandising

Offering the customer greater value and selection

 

   

Leading supply chain capability among middle market specialty jewelers provides better value to the customer.

 

   

Development of branded differentiated and exclusive merchandise creates a unique shopping destination.

 

   

In Fiscal 2012, approximately 26% of merchandise sales were accounted for by branded differentiated and exclusive ranges.

 

   

Each store is merchandised on an individual basis so as to provide appropriate selection.

 

   

Highly responsive demand-driven merchandise systems enable rapid response to changes in customer behavior.

 

   

24 hour re-supply capability means items wanted by customers are more likely to be available in inventory.

Marketing

Leading brands in middle market sector

 

   

Largest marketing budget in specialty jewelry sector, based on publicly available data, allowing more television advertising impressions than competitors, driving brand awareness and purchase intent.

 

   

Kay and Jared are able to achieve marketing leverage through national television advertising.

 

8


Table of Contents
   

Ability to drive customer awareness of branded merchandise by advertising on national television as part of the Kay and Jared marketing programs.

 

   

A proprietary confidential marketing database of nearly 25 million names provides significant opportunities for customer relationship marketing.

Real estate

Well designed stores in primary locations with high visibility and traffic flows

 

   

Strict real estate criteria consistently applied over time has resulted in a high-quality store base.

 

   

Well tested formats and locations reduce the risk of investing in new stores.

 

   

The division’s high store productivity and financial strength make Signet an attractive tenant for landlords.

Customer finance

Ability to facilitate customer transactions

 

   

About 56% of sales utilize financing provided by Signet.

 

   

Dedicated, proprietary credit underwriting standards more accurately reflect Signet’s customer than those used by a typical third-party scorecard.

 

   

Focused on facilitating the sale of jewelry.

 

9


Table of Contents

US Store Brand Reviews

Location of Kay, Jared and Regional brand stores by state January 28, 2012:

 

     Kay      Regional brand      Jared      Total  

Alabama

     22         4                 26   

Alaska

     2         1                 3   

Arizona

     15         2         7         24   

Arkansas

     8                         8   

California

     68         5         10         83   

Colorado

     13         3         6         22   

Connecticut

     11         5         1         17   

Delaware

     3                 1         4   

Florida

     66         14         18         98   

Georgia

     36         6         7         49   

Hawaii

     4                         4   

Idaho

     4                 1         5   

Illinois

     35         10         10         55   

Indiana

     20         8         4         32   

Iowa

     13         1         1         15   

Kansas

     5         2         2         9   

Kentucky

     16         7         2         25   

Louisiana

     13         1         2         16   

Maine

     5         1         1         7   

Maryland

     24         13         6         43   

Massachusetts

     23         9         2         34   

Michigan

     30         14         6         50   

Minnesota

     14         5         4         23   

Mississippi

     7                         7   

Missouri

     14         3         4         21   

Montana

     3                         3   

Nebraska

     3                         3   

Nevada

     6         1         3         10   

New Hampshire

     6         4         3         13   

New Jersey

     21                 5         26   

New Mexico

     5                 1         6   

New York

     47         8         4         59   

North Carolina

     35         1         7         43   

North Dakota

     4                         4   

Ohio

     52         34         13         99   

Oklahoma

     7                 1         8   

Oregon

     14         2         3         19   

Pennsylvania

     58         11         6         75   

Rhode Island

     2                         2   

South Carolina

     18         3         1         22   

South Dakota

     2                         2   

Tennessee

     23         5         7         35   

Texas

     59                 18         77   

Utah

     5                 2         7   

Vermont

     2                         2   

Virginia

     34         11         8         53   

Washington

     18         9         3         30   

West Virginia

     9         6                 15   

Wisconsin

     14         6         3         23   

Wyoming

     2                         2   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total

     920         215         183         1,318   

 

10


Table of Contents
     Fiscal
2012
    Fiscal
2011
    Fiscal
2010
 

Total opened during the year

     25        6        16   

Kay

     22 (1)       4        8 (2)  

Jared

     3        2        7   

Regional brands

     —          —          1   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total closed during the year

     (24 )     (50 )     (56 )

Kay

     (10 )     (19 )     (11 )

Jared

     —          —          —     

Regional brands

     (14 )(1)       (31     (45 )(2)  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total open at the end of the year

     1,318        1,317        1,361   

Kay

     920        908        923   

Jared

     183        180        178   

Regional brands

     215        229        260   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Average sales per store in thousands(3)

   $ 2,250      $ 2,028      $ 1,802   

Kay

   $ 1,899      $ 1,713      $ 1,570   

Jared

   $ 5,157      $ 4,638      $ 4,029   

Regional brands

   $ 1,288      $ 1,238      $ 1,155   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Increase/(decrease) in net new store space

     1 %     (2 )%     (1 )%
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(1) Includes two regional stores rebranded as Kay in Fiscal 2012.
(2) Includes two regional stores rebranded as Kay in Fiscal 2010.
(3) Based only upon stores operated for the full fiscal year.

Sales data by brand

 

            Change on previous year  

Fiscal 2012

   Sales
(millions)
     Total
sales
    Same
store
sales
 

Kay

   $ 1,786.8         12.2 %     11.8 %

Jared

   $ 956.8         12.8 %     12.1 %

Regional brands

   $ 290.5         (4.1 )%     4.1 %
  

 

 

      

US

   $ 3,034.1         10.6 %     11.1 %
  

 

 

      

Kay Jewelers

Kay accounted for 48% of Signet’s sales in Fiscal 2012 (Fiscal 2011: 46%) and operated 920 stores in 50 states as of January 28, 2012 (January 29, 2011: 908 stores). Since 2004, Kay has been the largest specialty retail jewelry store brand in the US, based on sales, and has subsequently increased its leadership position. Kay targets households with an income of between $35,000 and $100,000. Details of Kay’s performance over the last five years are given below:

 

     Fiscal
2012
     Fiscal
2011
     Fiscal
2010
     Fiscal
2009
     Fiscal
2008
 

Sales (million)

     $1,786.8       $ 1,592.9       $ 1,497.2       $ 1,430.7       $ 1,476.9   

Sales per store (million)

     $  1.899       $ 1.713       $ 1.570       $ 1.525       $ 1.695   

Stores at year end

     920         908         923         926         894   

Kay stores typically occupy about 1,600 square feet and have around 1,300 square feet of selling space. Historically they were located in enclosed regional malls. Since 2002, new formats have been developed for

 

11


Table of Contents

locations outside of traditional malls, because management believes these alternative locations present an opportunity to reach new customers who are aware of the brand but have no convenient access to a store, or for customers who prefer not to shop in an enclosed mall. Such stores further leverage the strong Kay brand, marketing support and the central overhead.

Recent net openings and current composition are shown below:

 

     Stores at
January 28,
2012
     Net (closures)/openings  
         Fiscal
2012
    Fiscal
2011
    Fiscal
2010
    Fiscal
2009
    Fiscal
2008
 

Mall

     766         1 (1)     (11     (2 )(1)       7 (1)      16   

Off-mall and outlet

     154         11        (4     (1     25        46   
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total

     920         12        (15     (3     32        62   
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(1) Includes two regional stores rebranded as Kay in Fiscal 2012, two in Fiscal 2010 and 14 in Fiscal 2009.

Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry

With 183 stores in 37 states as of January 28, 2012 (January 29, 2011: 180), Jared is the leading off-mall destination specialty retail jewelry store chain in its sector of the market, based on sales. Jared accounted for 25% of Signet’s sales in Fiscal 2012 (Fiscal 2011: 25%). The first Jared store was opened in 1993, and, since its roll-out began in 1998, it has grown to become the fourth largest US specialty retail jewelry brand by sales. Its main competitors are independent operators, with the next two largest such chains operating 20 and 12 stores respectively. Based on its competitive strengths, particularly its scale, management believes that Jared has significant opportunity to gain market share within this segment. An important distinction of a destination store is that the potential customer visits the store with a greater intention of making a jewelry purchase. Jared targets households with an income of between $50,000 and $150,000.

Details of Jared’s performance over the last five years are given below:

 

     Fiscal
2012
     Fiscal
2011
     Fiscal
2010
     Fiscal
2009
     Fiscal
2008
 

Sales (million)

     $956.8       $ 848.3       $ 718.2       $ 723.7       $ 752.5   

Sales per store (million)

     $5.157       $ 4.638       $ 4.029       $ 4.473       $ 5.317   

Stores at year end

     183         180         178         171         154   

The key points of differentiation compared to a typical mall store are Jared’s superior customer service and enhanced selection of merchandise. As a result of its larger size, more specialist sales associates are available to assist customers.

Every Jared store has an on-site design and repair center where most repairs are completed within one hour. The facility also mounts loose diamonds in settings and provides a custom design service when required. Each store also has at least one diamond viewing room, a children’s play area and complimentary refreshments.

The typical Jared store has about 4,800 square feet of selling space and approximately 6,000 square feet of total space. Jared locations are normally free-standing sites with high visibility and traffic flow, positioned close to major roads within shopping developments. Jared stores operate in retail centers that normally contain strong retail co-tenants, including big box, destination stores such as Bed, Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Home Depot, as well as some smaller specialty units.

 

12


Table of Contents

US regional brands

Signet also operates mall stores under a variety of established regional nameplates, which accounted for 8% of Signet’s sales in Fiscal 2012 (Fiscal 2011: 9%). As of January 28, 2012, 215 regional brand stores operated in 33 states (January 29, 2011: 229 stores in 33 states). The leading brands include JB Robinson Jewelers, Marks & Morgan Jewelers and Belden Jewelers. All of these stores are located in malls where there is also a Kay store, and target a similar customer. Details of the regional brands’ performance over the last five years are given below:

 

     Fiscal
2012
     Fiscal
2011
     Fiscal
2010
     Fiscal
2009
     Fiscal
2008
 

Sales (million)

   $ 290.5       $ 303.0       $ 325.0       $ 365.4       $ 456.6   

Sales per store (million)

   $ 1.288       $ 1.238       $ 1.155       $ 1.151       $ 1.333   

Stores at year end

     215         229         260         304         351   

US eCommerce sales

The Kay and Jared websites are among the most visited in the specialty jewelry sector (source: Compete) and provide potential customers with a source of information about the merchandise available, as well as the ability to buy online. The websites are integrated with the division’s stores, so that merchandise ordered online may be picked up at a store or delivered to the customer. A significant number of customers who buy after visiting the websites, pick up the merchandise from a store, where they can physically examine the product. The websites make an important and growing contribution to the customer experience at Kay and Jared, and are an important part of the US division’s marketing programs. In Fiscal 2012, the US division’s eCommerce sales increased by 45.7% to $68.5 million (Fiscal 2011: $47.0 million), and represented 2.3% of sales (Fiscal 2011: 1.7%).

US Operating Review

Operating structure

While the US division operates under the Kay, Jared and 10 regional store brands, many functions are integrated to gain economies of scale. For example, store operations have a separate dedicated field management team for the mall store brands, Jared and the in-store repair function, while there is a combined diamond sourcing function.

US customer experience and human resources

In specialty jewelry retailing, the level and quality of customer service is a key competitive advantage because nearly every in-store transaction involves the sales associate taking out a piece of jewelry or a watch from a display case and presenting it to the customer. Therefore the ability to recruit, train and retain qualified sales associates is important in determining sales, profitability and the rate of net store space growth. Consequently the US division has in place comprehensive recruitment, training and incentive programs and uses employee and customer satisfaction surveys to monitor and improve performance. A continual priority of the US division is to improve the quality of the customer experience. To enhance customer service, the US division is increasingly using sales-enhancing technology, including customer-assisted selling systems. These computerized tools enable a sales associate to better assist a potential customer to make a purchase decision. Investment in the digital environment such as websites, mobile applications and social media, further adds to the customers shopping choices.

US merchandising and purchasing

Management believes that merchandise selection, availability, and value for money are critical success factors for a specialty retail jeweler. In the US business, the range of merchandise offered, and the high level of inventory availability, are supported centrally by extensive and continuous research and testing. Best-selling products are identified and replenished rapidly through analysis of sales by stock keeping unit. This approach enables the US

 

13


Table of Contents

division to deliver a focused assortment of merchandise to maximize sales and inventory turn, and minimize the need for discounting. Management believes that the US division is better able than its competitors to offer greater value and consistency of merchandise, due to its supply chain strengths discussed below. In addition, in recent years management continues to develop, refine and execute a strategy to increase the proportion of branded differentiated and exclusive merchandise sold, in response to customer demand.

The scale and information systems available to management and the gradual evolution of jewelry fashion trends allow for the careful testing of new merchandise in a range of representative stores. This enables management to make more informed investment decisions about which ranges and stock keeping units to select, thereby increasing the US division’s ability to satisfy customers’ requirements while reducing the likelihood of having to discount poorly selling merchandise. The US division typically tests merchandise in 50 to 250 stores. The test results are used in helping to determine the merchandising and marketing plans for the all important fourth quarter. Only two other mid-market specialty jewelry retailers have sufficient stores to allow the testing of merchandise in up to 250 stores.

Merchandise mix

US division merchandise mix (excluding repairs, warranty and other miscellaneous sales)

 

     Fiscal
2012
     Fiscal
2011
     Fiscal
2010
 
     %      %      %  

Diamonds and diamond jewelry

     73         75         76   

Gold & silver jewelry, including charm bracelets

     12         10         8   

Other jewelry

     8         8         9   

Watches

     7         7         7   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 
     100         100         100   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Expression of romance and appreciation are primary motivators for the purchase of jewelry and watches, with self adornment and self reward also being important. In the US division, the bridal category, which includes engagement, wedding and anniversary purchases, is estimated by management to account for about 50% of sales, and is predominantly diamond jewelry. The bridal category is believed by management to be more stable than the other reasons for buying jewelry, but is still dependent on the economic environment as customers can trade up or down price points depending on their available budget. Outside of the bridal category, jewelry and watch purchases, including for gift giving, have a much broader merchandise mix. Gift giving is particularly important during the Holiday Season, and ahead of Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. The merchandise mix in the US division’s store formats is similar, although the average unit selling price of diamond jewelry and watches is higher in Jared ($825) as compared to Kay ($359) and regional brands ($373).

A further categorization of merchandise is branded differentiated and exclusive, third-party branded and generally available. Merchandise that is generally available includes items and styles, such as solitaire rings and diamond stud earrings, available from a wide range of jewelry retailers. It also includes styles such as diamond fashion bracelets, rings and necklaces. Within this category, the US division has some exclusive designs of particular styles and also has ‘value items.’ Third-party branded merchandise includes mostly watches, but also includes ranges such as charm bracelets produced by Pandora™. Branded differentiated and exclusive merchandise are items that are branded and exclusive to Signet within its marketplaces, or that are not widely available in other specialty jewelry retailers.

Branded differentiated and exclusive ranges

Management believes that the development of branded differentiated and exclusive merchandise raises the profile of Signet’s stores, helps to drive sales and provides its well trained sales associates with a powerful

 

14


Table of Contents

selling proposition. Such brands may also have a slightly higher gross merchandise margin than unbranded merchandise of a similar product specification and there is significantly less exposure to competitive discounting. National television advertisements for Kay and Jared include elements that drive brand awareness and purchase intent of these ranges. Management believes that Signet’s scale and proven record of success in developing branded differentiated and exclusive merchandise attracts offers of such programs from jewelry manufacturers, designers, and others ahead of competing retailers, and enables it to better leverage its supply chain strengths. Management plans to develop additional branded differentiated and exclusive ranges as appropriate and to further expand and refine those already launched.

Branded differentiated and exclusive merchandise includes:

 

   

the Leo® Diamond collection, which is sold exclusively by Signet in the US and the UK, is the first diamond to be independently and individually certified to be visibly brighter;

 

   

the Peerless Diamond, the ideal ideal-cut diamond®. “The precision of the cut brings out the beauty of the diamond.”TM The Peerless® Diamond is available only in Jared;

 

   

exclusive collections of jewelry by Le Vian®, famed for its handcrafted, unique designs;

 

   

Open Hearts by Jane Seymour®, a collection of jewelry designed by the actress and artist Jane Seymour, was successfully tested and launched in Fiscal 2009;

 

   

Love’s Embrace®, a collection of classic, timeless diamond fashion jewelry that was tested and rolled out during Fiscal 2010;

 

   

Charmed Memories®, a create your own charm bracelet collection, tested and rolled out in Fiscal 2011, sold in Kay and the regional brand stores;

 

   

Tolkowsky®, an ideal cut diamond “Invented by Tolkowsky Perfected by Tolkowsky”TM. The collection was tested in Fiscal 2011 and its availability was expanded to the majority of Kay stores during Fiscal 2012; and

 

   

Neil Lane Bridal®, a vintage-inspired bridal collection by the celebrated jewelry designer Neil Lane. The collection was tested in Fiscal 2011 and its availability was expanded to all stores during Fiscal 2012.

Direct sourcing of polished diamonds

Management believes that the US division has a competitive cost and quality advantage because 45% (Fiscal 2011: 45%) of diamond merchandise sold is sourced through contract manufacturing. This involves Signet purchasing loose polished diamonds on the world markets and outsourcing the casting, assembly and finishing operations to third parties or Signet mounting stones in settings purchased from manufacturers. By using this approach, the cost of merchandise is reduced, and the consistency of quality is maintained, enabling the US division to provide better value to the customer, which helps to increase market share and achieve higher gross merchandise margins. Contract manufacturing is generally utilized on basic items with proven, non-volatile, historical sales patterns that represent a lower risk of over- or under-purchasing the quantity required.

The contract manufacturing strategy also allows Signet’s buyers to gain a detailed understanding of the manufacturing cost structures and, in turn, leverage that knowledge with regard to negotiating better prices for the supply of finished products.

Sourcing of finished merchandise

Merchandise is purchased as a finished product where the item is complex, the merchandise is considered likely to have a less predictable sales pattern or where cost can be reduced. This method of buying inventory provides the opportunity to reserve inventory held by vendors and to make returns or exchanges with the supplier, thereby reducing the risk of over- or under-purchasing.

 

15


Table of Contents

Management believes that the division’s scale and strong balance sheet enables it to purchase merchandise at a lower price, and on better terms, than most of its competitors.

Merchandise held on consignment

Merchandise held on consignment is used to enhance product selection and test new designs. This minimizes exposure to changes in fashion trends and obsolescence, and provides the flexibility to return non-performing merchandise. At January 28, 2012, the US division held $141.0 million (January 29, 2011: $138.0 million) of merchandise on consignment, see Note 11 of Item 8.

Virtual inventory

Signet’s supplier relationships allow it to display suppliers’ inventories on the Jared and Kay websites for sale to customers without holding the items in its inventory until the products are ordered by customers, which is referred to as “virtual inventory”. Virtual inventory expands the choice of merchandise available to customers both online and in-store. Virtual inventory reduces the division’s investment in inventory while increasing the selection available to the customer.

Suppliers

In Fiscal 2012, the five largest suppliers collectively accounted for approximately 21% (Fiscal 2011: 24%) of the US division’s total purchases, with the largest supplier accounting for approximately 6% (Fiscal 2011: 7%). The US division directly transacts business with suppliers on a worldwide basis at various stages of the supply chain, with diamond cutting and jewelry manufacturing being predominantly carried out in Asia.

The division benefits from close commercial relationships with a number of suppliers and damage to, or loss of, any of these relationships could have a detrimental effect on results. Although management believes that alternative sources of supply are available, the abrupt loss or disruption of any significant supplier during the three month period (August to October) leading up to the Holiday Season could result in a materially adverse effect on performance. Therefore a regular dialogue is maintained with suppliers, particularly in the present economic climate.

Luxury and prestige watch manufacturers and distributors normally grant agencies to sell their timepieces on a store by store basis. In the US, Signet sells its luxury watch brands primarily through Jared, where management believes that they help attract customers to Jared and build sales in all categories.

Raw materials and the supply chain

The jewelry industry generally is affected by fluctuations in the price and supply of diamonds, gold and, to a much lesser extent, other precious and semi-precious metals and stones.

The ability of Signet to increase retail prices to reflect higher commodity costs varies, and an inability to increase retail prices could result in lower profitability. Historically, jewelry retailers including Signet have, over time, been able to increase prices to reflect changes in commodity costs. However, increases and volatility in commodity costs usually result in a time lag before increased commodity costs are fully reflected in retail prices due to the slow inventory turn. Management believes that diamonds account for about 55%, and gold about 15%, of the US division’s cost of merchandise sold respectively.

Signet undertakes hedging for a portion of its requirement for gold through the use of options, forward contracts and commodity purchasing. It is not possible to hedge against fluctuations in the cost of diamonds. The cost of raw materials is only part of the costs involved in determining the retail selling price of jewelry, with labor costs also being a significant factor. Management continues to seek ways to reduce the cost of goods sold and enhance the resilience of its supply chain.

 

16


Table of Contents

The largest product category sold by Signet is diamonds and diamond jewelry. The supply and price of diamonds in the principal world markets are significantly influenced by a single entity, the Diamond Trading Company (“DTC”), a subsidiary of De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited, although its market share has been decreasing. Changes in government policy in a number of African diamond producing countries have caused significant changes in the diamond supply chain in recent years. A major new source of diamonds has been discovered in recent years in Marange, Zimbabwe. The quantity and quality of these diamonds are uncertain and there are restrictions on their import into the US and European Union. The export of diamonds from Marange is at an early stage of development and their impact on the worldwide balance between the supply of and demand for rough diamonds is uncertain.

Inventory management

Sophisticated inventory management systems for merchandise testing, assortment planning, allocation and replenishment are in place, thereby reducing inventory risk by enabling management to identify and respond quickly to changes in customers’ buying patterns. The majority of merchandise is common to all US division mall stores, with the remainder allocated to reflect demand in individual stores. Management believes that the merchandising and inventory management systems, as well as improvements in the productivity of the centralized distribution center, have allowed the US division to achieve consistent improvement in inventory turns. The vast majority of inventory is held at stores rather than in the central distribution facility.

Other sales

While repair and design services represent less than 10% of sales, they account for approximately 30% of transactions and have been identified by management as an important opportunity to build customers’ trust. All Jared stores have a highly visible jewelry repair center, which is open the same hours as the store. The repair centers meet the repair requirements of the store in which they are located and also provide the same service for the US division’s mall brand stores. As a result, nearly all customer repairs are carried out in-house, unlike most other chain jewelers, which do this through sub-contractors. The repair and design function has its own field management and training structure.

The US division sells, as a separate item, a lifetime repair service plan for jewelry. These plans cover services such as ring sizing, refinishing and polishing, rhodium plating white gold, earring repair, chain soldering and the resetting of diamonds and gemstones that arise due to the normal usage of the merchandise. Such work is carried out in-house.

US marketing and advertising

Management believes customers’ confidence in the retailer, store brand name recognition and advertising of branded differentiated and exclusive ranges, are important factors in determining buying decisions in the specialty jewelry sector where the majority of merchandise is unbranded. Therefore, the US division continues to strengthen and promote its reputation by aiming to deliver superior customer service and build brand name recognition. The marketing channels used include television, radio, print, catalog, direct mail, telephone marketing, point of sale signage, in-store displays and online methods. Marketing activities, including the use of new media channels, are carefully tested and their success monitored by methods such as market research and sales productivity.

While marketing activities are undertaken throughout the year, the level of activity is concentrated at periods when customers are expected to be most receptive to marketing messages, which is ahead of Christmas Day, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. A significant majority of the expenditure is spent on national television advertising, which is used to promote the Kay and Jared store brands. Within such advertisements, Signet also promotes certain merchandise ranges, in particular its branded differentiated and exclusive merchandise and other branded products. During Fiscal 2012, the US division continued to have the leading share of voice within the US jewelry sector.

 

17


Table of Contents

Statistical and technology-based systems are employed to support a customer relationship marketing program that uses a proprietary database of nearly 25 million names to strengthen the relationship with customers through mail, telephone and eMail communications. The program targets current customers with special savings and merchandise offers during key sales periods. In addition, invitations to special in-store promotional events are extended throughout the year.

Historically, in the US, generic marketing activity undertaken by De Beers to promote diamonds and diamond jewelry designs was important in influencing the size of the total jewelry market and the popularity of particular styles of jewelry. With the significant reduction by De Beers of its promotional expenditure on diamonds and diamond jewelry in the US, management believes that marketing carried out by specialty jewelry retailers has become more important. Given the size of the marketing budgets for Kay and Jared, management believes this has increased the US division’s competitive marketing advantage. The ability to advertise branded differentiated and exclusive merchandise on national television is of growing importance. The US division’s five year record of gross advertising spending is given below:

 

     Fiscal
2012
     Fiscal
2011
     Fiscal
2010
     Fiscal
2009
     Fiscal
2008
 

Gross advertising spending (million)

   $ 188.4       $ 161.5       $ 153.0       $ 188.4       $ 204.0   

Percent of sales (%)

     6.2         5.9         6.0         7.5         7.6   

US real estate

Management has strict operating and financial criteria that have to be satisfied before investing in new stores or renewing leases on existing stores. Substantially all the stores operated by Signet in the US are leased. In Fiscal 2012, net store space increased 1% (Fiscal 2011: decrease 2%). The greatest opportunity for new stores is in locations outside traditional covered regional malls.

Recent investment in the store portfolio is set out below:

 

     Fiscal
2012
     Fiscal
2011
     Fiscal
2010
 
     $million      $million      $million  

New store capital investment

     10.9         3.2         10.1   

Remodels and other store capital investment

     40.1         25.6         8.1   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total store capital investment

     51.0         28.8         18.2   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

US customer finance

Management believes that in the US jewelry market it is necessary for retailers to offer finance facilities to the customer, and that managing the process in-house is a competitive strength of Signet’s US division:

 

   

credit policies are determined by taking into account the overall impact on the business. In particular, the US division’s objective is to facilitate the sale of jewelry and to collect the outstanding credit balance as quickly as possible, thereby enabling the customer to buy more jewelry using the credit facility. In contrast, management believes that many financial institutions focus on earning interest by maximizing the outstanding credit balance;

 

   

authorization and collection models are based on the behavior of the division’s customers;

 

   

it allows management to establish and implement service standards appropriate for the business;

 

   

it provides a database of regular customers and their spending patterns;

 

   

investment in systems and management of credit offerings appropriate for the business can be facilitated; and

 

   

it maximizes cost effectiveness by utilizing in-house capability.

 

18


Table of Contents

Furthermore the various customer finance programs help to establish long-term relationships with customers and complement the marketing strategy by enabling a greater number of purchases, higher units per transaction and greater value sales.

In addition to interest-bearing accounts, a portion of credit sales are made using interest-free financing for one year, subject to certain conditions. In most US states, customers are offered optional third-party credit insurance.

The customer financing operation is centralized and fully integrated into the management of the US division and is not a separate operating division nor does it report separate results. All assets and liabilities relating to customer financing are shown on the balance sheet and there are no associated off-balance sheet arrangements. Signet’s balance sheet and access to liquidity do not constrain the US division’s ability to grant credit, which is a further competitive strength in the current economic environment.

The US division’s customer finance facility may only be used for purchases from the US division.

Allowances for uncollectible amounts are recorded as a charge to cost of goods sold in the income statement. The allowance is calculated using factors such as delinquency rates and recovery rates. A 100% allowance is made for any amount that is more than 90 days aged on a recency basis. The calculation is reviewed by management to assess whether, based on economic events, additional analyses are required to appropriately estimate losses inherent in the portfolio.

Each individual application for credit is evaluated centrally against set lending criteria. The risks associated with the granting of credit to particular groups of customers with similar characteristics are balanced against the gross merchandise margin earned by the proposed sales to those customers. Management believes that the primary drivers of the net bad debt to total US sales ratio are the accuracy of the proprietary customer credit models used when granting customer credit, the procedures used to collect the outstanding balances, credit sales as a percentage to total US sales and the rate of change in the level of unemployment in the US economy. Cash flows associated with the granting of credit to customers of the individual store are included in the projections used when considering store investment proposals.

Customer financing statistics(1)

 

     Fiscal
2012
     Fiscal
2011
    Fiscal
2010
 

Opening receivables (million)

     $      995.5       $ 921.5      $ 886.1   

Credit sales (million)

     $   1,702.3       $ 1,486.3      $ 1,368.2   

Closing receivables (million)

     $   1,155.5       $ 995.5      $ 921.5   

Credit sales as % of total US sales(2)

     56.1      54.2 %     53.9 %

Number of active credit accounts at year end

     1,107,043         989,697        936,286   

Average outstanding account balance at year end

     $      1,068       $ 1,029      $ 1,016   

Average monthly collection rate

     12.7      12.6 %     12.5 %

Net bad debt to total US sales

     3.4      4.2 %     5.6 %

Net bad debt to US credit sales

     6.1      7.7 %     10.4 %

Period end bad debt allowance to period end receivables

     6.8      6.8 %     7.8 %

 

(1) See Note 10, Item 8.
(2) Including any deposits taken at the time of sale.

 

19


Table of Contents

Customer financing administration

Authorizations and collections are performed centrally at the US divisional head office. The majority of credit applications are processed and approved automatically after being initiated via in-store terminals, through a toll-free phone number or online through the US division’s websites. The remaining applications are reviewed by the division’s credit authorization personnel. All applications are evaluated by proprietary credit scoring models. Collection procedures use risk-based calling and first call resolution strategies. Investment is made in information technology, systems support and collection strategies with the objective of making them more effective.

Third-party credit sales

In addition to in-house credit sales, the US stores accept major bank cards. Sales made exclusively using third-party bank cards accounted for approximately 35% of total US sales during Fiscal 2012 (Fiscal 2011: 36%).

US management information systems

The US division’s integrated and comprehensive information systems provide detailed, timely information to monitor and evaluate many aspects of the business. They are designed to support financial reporting and management control functions such as merchandise testing, loss prevention and inventory control, as well as reduce the time sales associates spend on administrative tasks and increase time spent on sales activities.

All stores are supported by the internally developed Store Information System, which includes electronic point of sale (“EPOS”) processing, in-house credit authorization and support, a district manager information system and constant broadband connectivity for all retail locations for data communications including eMail. The EPOS system updates sales, in-house credit and perpetual inventory replenishment systems throughout the day for each store.

The US division plans to invest about $40 million in information systems in Fiscal 2013 (Fiscal 2012: $21.1 million). The planned increase reflects investments in sales-enhancing technology, both in-store and in the digital environment, and in information technology designed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the division’s execution.

Management believes that the US division has the most sophisticated management information systems within the specialty jewelry sector.

US regulation

The US division is required to comply with numerous US federal and state laws and regulations covering areas such as consumer protection, consumer privacy, consumer credit, consumer credit insurance, supply chain integrity, truth in advertising and employment legislation. Management monitors changes in these laws to endeavor to comply with applicable requirements.

UK DIVISION

The UK division is managed in pounds sterling, as sales and the majority of operating expenses are both incurred in that currency, and its results are then translated into US dollars for external reporting purposes. The following information for the UK division is given in pounds sterling as management believes that this presentation assists in the understanding of the performance of the UK division. Movements in the US dollar to pound sterling exchange rate therefore may have an impact on the results of Signet, particularly in periods of exchange rate volatility. See Item 6 for analysis of results at constant exchange rates; non-GAAP measures.

 

20


Table of Contents

UK market

The UK market includes specialty retail jewelers and general retailers who sell jewelry and watches, such as catalog showrooms, department stores, supermarkets, mail order catalogs, and internet based retailers. The retail jewelry market is very fragmented and competitive, with a substantial number of independent specialty jewelry retailers. Management believes there are approximately 5,200 specialty retail jewelry stores in the UK as of December 2011, approximately 300 stores less than the prior year (source: Local Data Company).

In the middle market, H.Samuel competes with a large number of independent jewelers, only one of which has more than 100 stores. Some competition, at the lower end of the H.Samuel product range, also comes from a catalog showroom operator, discount jewelry retailers and supermarkets, some of whom have more stores than H.Samuel.

In the upper middle market, Ernest Jones competes with independent specialty retailers and a limited number of other upper middle market chains, the largest three of which had 132, 65 and 37 stores respectively at January 28, 2012.

UK Competitive Strengths

Customer experience and human resources

The customer experience, in particular, the ability of the sales associate to explain the merchandise and its value, is essential to most jewelry purchases

 

   

Industry-leading training, granted third-party accreditation, helps sales associates provide superior customer service.

 

   

88% of store management have passed the Jewellery Education and Training Course 1 accredited by the National Association of Goldsmiths, demonstrating professionalism of sales associates. The UK division employs 38% of the total number of people that have passed this qualification.

 

   

Management trained to support sales associate development programs and build general management skills.

 

   

Commission based compensation program developed to improve recruitment and retention of high quality sales associates.

 

   

Leading integrated eCommerce and retail store service within the specialty jewelry sector.

Merchandising

Customer offered greater value and selection

 

   

Leading supply chain capability in the UK jewelry sector, which provides better value to the customer.

 

   

Responsive, demand-driven merchandise systems enable rapid reaction to changes in customer behavior.

 

   

The ability to offer exclusive products, which improves differentiation from competitors.

 

   

24 hour re-supply capability means items wanted by customers are more likely to be available in inventory.

Marketing

Leading brands in middle market sector

 

   

Ability to leverage brand perception through scale of marketing spend.

 

   

Significant proprietary confidential marketing database enables extensive customer relationship marketing.

 

   

H.Samuel uses national TV advertising to promote its retail brand.

 

21


Table of Contents

Real estate

Well designed stores in primary locations with high visibility and traffic flows

 

   

Strict real estate criteria consistently applied over time has resulted in a high-quality store base.

 

   

Signet’s high store productivity and financial strength make it an attractive tenant to landlords.

UK Store Brand Reviews

Sales data by brand

 

            Change on previous year  

Fiscal 2012

   Sales
(millions)
     Total
sales
    Sales at
constant
exchange
rates(1)(2)
    Same
store
sales
 

H.Samuel

   £ 243.1         4.2 %     0.9     1.6 %

Ernest Jones(3)

   £ 203.8         2.1 %     (1.1 )%      0.0 %
  

 

 

        

UK

   £ 446.9         3.2 %     (0.1 )%      0.9 %
  

 

 

        

 

(1) Non-GAAP measure, see Item 6.
(2) The exchange translation impact on the total sales of H.Samuel was 3.3%, and for Ernest Jones 3.2%.
(3) Includes stores selling under the Leslie Davis nameplate.

H.Samuel

H.Samuel accounted for 10% of Signet’s sales in Fiscal 2012 (Fiscal 2011: 11%), and is the largest specialty retail jewelry store brand in the UK by number of stores. With 150 years of jewelry heritage, it serves the core middle market and its customers typically have an annual household income of between £15,000 and £40,000. The typical store selling space is 1,100 square feet.

H.Samuel has increasingly focused on larger stores, in regional shopping centers, where it is better able to offer more specialist customer service and a wider range of jewelry. This also reflects customer’s changing shopping patterns. The number of H.Samuel stores in smaller markets has therefore declined as leases expire or suitable real estate transactions became available.

 

     Fiscal
2012
     Fiscal
2011
     Fiscal
2010
     Fiscal
2009
     Fiscal
2008
 

Sales (million)

   £ 243.1       £ 240.9       £ 247.8       £ 250.3       £ 256.7   

Sales per store (million)(1)

   £ 0.719       £ 0.705       £ 0.712       £ 0.718       £ 0.722   

Stores at year end

     337         338         347         352         359   

 

(1) Including only stores operated for the full fiscal year.

H.Samuel store data

 

     Fiscal
2012
    Fiscal
2011
    Fiscal
2010
 

Number of stores:

      

Opened during the year

     2 (1)      —          —     

Closed during the year

     (3     (9 )     (5 )

Open at year end

     337        338        347   

 

(1) Includes one Ernest Jones store rebranded as H.Samuel.

 

22


Table of Contents

H.Samuel merchandise mix (excluding repairs, warranty and other miscellaneous sales)

 

     Fiscal
2012
     Fiscal
2011
     Fiscal
2010
 
     %      %      %  

Diamonds and diamond jewelry

     21         21         22   

Gold and silver jewelry, including charm bracelets

     29         29         28   

Other jewelry

     14         13         13   

Watches

     25         25         25   

Gift category

     11         12         12   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 
     100         100         100   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Ernest Jones

Ernest Jones accounted for 9% of Signet’s sales in Fiscal 2012 (Fiscal 2011: 9%), and is the second largest specialty retail jewelry store brand in the UK by number of stores. It serves the upper middle market and its customers typically have an annual household income of between £30,000 and £50,000. The typical store selling space is 900 square feet.

The number of Ernest Jones stores has been broadly stable over the last five years. While locations would be considered for new stores, any openings would depend on the availability of both suitable sites and prestige watch agencies, as well as satisfying Signet’s required investment returns.

 

     Fiscal
2012
     Fiscal
2011
     Fiscal
2010
     Fiscal
2009
     Fiscal
2008
 

Sales (million)

   £ 203.8       £ 206.1       £ 209.8       £ 208.3       £ 219.4   

Sales per store (million)(1)

   £ 1.026       £ 1.041       £ 1.027       £ 1.047       £ 1.105   

Stores at year end

     198         202         205         206         204   

 

(1) Including only stores operated for the full fiscal year.

Ernest Jones store data(1)

 

     Fiscal
2012
    Fiscal
2011
    Fiscal
2010
 

Number of stores:

      

Opened during the year

     2        —          1   

Closed during the year

     (6 )(2)     (3 )     (2 )

Open at year end

     198        202        205   

 

(1) Including Leslie Davis stores.
(2) Includes one Ernest Jones store rebranded to H.Samuel.

Ernest Jones merchandise mix (excluding repairs, warranty and other miscellaneous sales)

 

     Fiscal
2012
     Fiscal
2011
     Fiscal
2010
 
     %      %      %  

Diamonds and diamond jewelry

     34         36         39   

Gold and silver jewelry, including charm bracelets

     14         16         14   

Other jewelry

     11         10         10   

Watches

     39         36         35   

Gift category

     2         2         2   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 
     100         100         100   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

23


Table of Contents

UK eCommerce sales

H.Samuel’s website, www.hsamuel.co.uk, is the most visited UK specialty jewelry website and Ernest Jones’ website, www.ernestjones.co.uk, is the second most visited (source: Hitwise). The websites provide potential customers with a source of information on merchandise available, as well as the ability to buy online. The websites are integrated with the division’s stores, so that merchandise ordered online may be picked up at a store or delivered to the customer. The websites make an important and growing contribution to the customer experience of H.Samuel and Ernest Jones, as well as to the UK division’s marketing programs. Transactional iPhone applications for both H.Samuel and Ernest Jones were launched during the fourth quarter of 2011. In Fiscal 2012, the UK division’s eCommerce sales increased by 12.0% to £14.9 million (Fiscal 2011: £13.3 million), and represented 3.3% of sales (Fiscal 2011: 3.0%).

UK Operating Review

Operating structure

Signet’s UK division operates as two brands with a single support structure and distribution center.

UK customer experience and human resources

Management regards the customer experience as an essential element in the success of its business, and the division’s scale enables it to invest in industry-leading training and in the digital environment. The Signet Jewellery Academy, a multi-year program and framework for training and developing standards of capability, is operated for all sales associates. It utilizes a training system developed by the division called the “Amazing Customer Experience” (“ACE”). An ACE Index customer feedback survey gives a reflection of customers’ experiences and forms part of the monthly performance statistics that are monitored on a store by store basis.

UK merchandising and purchasing

Management believes that the UK division’s leading position in the UK jewelry sector is an advantage when sourcing merchandise, enabling delivery of better value to the customer. An example of this is its capacity to contract with jewelry manufacturers to assemble products, utilizing directly sourced gold and diamonds. In addition, the UK division has the scale to utilize sophisticated merchandising systems to test, track, forecast and respond to customer preferences. The vast majority of inventory is held at stores rather than in the central distribution facility. The average unit selling price in H.Samuel of £61 is below that of Ernest Jones average unit selling price of £274, primarily due to the greater participation of the gift category in its merchandise mix. The UK division and the US division seek to coordinate their merchandising and purchasing activities where appropriate, and are working to identify opportunities to further such coordination.

Merchandise mix

UK division merchandise mix (excluding repairs, warranty and other miscellaneous sales)

 

     Fiscal
2012
     Fiscal
2011
     Fiscal
2010
 
     %      %      %  

Diamonds and diamond jewelry

     27         28         30   

Gold and silver jewelry, including charm bracelets

     22         23         22   

Other jewelry

     13         12         11   

Watches

     31         30         30   

Gift category

     7         7         7   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 
     100         100         100   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

24


Table of Contents

The UK division has a different merchandise weighting to that of the US division, with watches representing 31% of merchandise sales. Bridal jewelry is estimated by management to account for between 20% and 25% of the UK division’s sales, with gold wedding bands being an important element.

Direct sourcing

The UK division employs contract manufacturers for approximately 20% (Fiscal 2011: 20%) of the diamond merchandise sold, thereby achieving cost savings. Approximately 19% of the UK business’s gold jewelry is manufactured on a contract basis through a buying office in Vicenza, Italy.

Suppliers

Merchandise is purchased from a range of suppliers and manufacturers and economies of scale and buying power continued to be achieved by combining the purchases of H.Samuel and Ernest Jones. In Fiscal 2012, the five largest of these suppliers (three watch and two jewelry) together accounted for approximately 35% of total UK division purchases (Fiscal 2011: approximately 30%), with the largest accounting for around 8%.

Foreign exchange and merchandise costs

Fine gold and loose diamonds account for about 15% to 20% and 5% to 10%, respectively, of the merchandise cost of goods sold. The prices of these are determined by international markets and the pound sterling to US dollar exchange rate. The other major category of goods purchased are watches, where the pound sterling cost is influenced by the Swiss franc exchange rate. In total, between 20% to 25% of goods purchased are made in US dollars. The pound sterling to US dollar exchange rate also has a significant indirect impact on the UK division’s cost of goods sold for other merchandise.

Signet undertakes hedging for a portion of its requirement for US dollars and gold through the use of options, forward contracts and commodity purchasing. It is not possible to hedge against fluctuations in the cost of diamonds. The cost of raw materials is part of the costs involved in determining the retail selling price of jewelry, with labor costs also being a significant factor. Management continues to seek ways to reduce the cost of goods sold by improving the efficiency of its supply chain.

UK marketing and advertising

The UK division has strong, well-established brands and leverages them with advertising (television, print and online), catalogs and the development of customer relationship marketing techniques. Few of its competitors have sufficient scale to utilize all these marketing methods efficiently. Marketing campaigns are designed to reinforce and develop further the distinct brand identities and to expand the overall customer base and improve customer loyalty. H.Samuel used television advertising in the fourth quarter and during Fiscal 2012 expanded customer relationship marketing. For Ernest Jones, expenditure is focused on print and customer relationship marketing. Catalogs remain an important marketing tool for both H.Samuel and Ernest Jones. The UK division’s five year record of gross advertising spending is given below:

 

     Fiscal
2012
     Fiscal
2011
     Fiscal
2010
     Fiscal
2009
     Fiscal
2008
 

Gross advertising spending (million)

     £12.6       £ 10.7       £ 10.2       £ 12.6       £ 14.6   

Percent of sales (%)

     2.8         2.4         2.2         2.8         3.1   

UK real estate

In Fiscal 2012, total store capital expenditure was £6.9 million (Fiscal 2011: £8.1 million), as a result of a decrease in the number of store refurbishments partially offset by increased investment in new stores.

 

25


Table of Contents

UK customer finance

In Fiscal 2012, approximately 4% (Fiscal 2011: 5%) of the division’s sales were made through a customer finance program provided through a third party. Signet does not provide this service itself in the UK as the demand for customer finance is of insufficient scale. Sales made using third-party bank cards were approximately 45% of sales (Fiscal 2011: 44%).

UK management information systems

EPOS equipment, retail management systems, purchase order management systems and merchandise planning processes are in place to support financial management, inventory planning and control, purchasing, merchandising, replenishment and distribution and can usually ensure replacement within 48 hours of any merchandise sold. The UK division uses third-party suppliers to support the operation of its information systems.

A perpetual inventory process allows store managers to check inventory by product category. These systems are designed to assist in the control of shrinkage, fraud prevention, financial analysis of retail operations, merchandising and inventory control.

The UK division plans to invest about £3 million in information systems in Fiscal 2013 (Fiscal 2012: £4.3 million). The planned expenditure reflects investments in sales-enhancing technology, both in-store and in the digital environment, and in information technology designed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the division’s execution.

UK regulation

Various laws and regulations affect Signet’s UK operations. These cover areas such as consumer protection, consumer credit, data protection, health and safety, waste disposal, employment legislation and planning and development standards. Management monitors changes in these laws to endeavor to comply with legal requirements.

AVAILABLE INFORMATION

Signet files annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements and other information with the SEC. Prior to February 1, 2010, Signet filed annual reports on Form 20-F and other reports on Form 6-K. Such information, and amendments to reports previously filed or furnished, is available free of charge from our corporate website, www.signetjewelers.com, as soon as reasonably practicable after such materials are filed with or furnished to the SEC.

 

26


Table of Contents
ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

Spending on goods that are, or are perceived to be “luxuries”, such as jewelry, is discretionary and is affected by general economic conditions. Therefore, a decline in consumer spending, whether due to adverse changes in the economy or other factors that reduce our customers’ demand for our products, may unfavorably impact Signet’s future sales and earnings

Jewelry purchases are discretionary and are dependent on consumers’ perceptions of general economic conditions, particularly as jewelry is often perceived to be a luxury purchase. Adverse changes in the economy and periods when discretionary spending by consumers may be under pressure could unfavorably impact sales and earnings.

The success of Signet’s operations depends to a significant extent upon a number of factors relating to discretionary consumer spending. These include economic conditions, and perceptions of such conditions by consumers, consumer confidence, employment, the rate of change in employment, the level of consumers’ disposable income and income available for discretionary expenditure, the savings ratio, business conditions, interest rates, consumer debt and asset values, availability of credit and levels of taxation for the economy as a whole and in regional and local markets where it operates. Signet’s success also depends upon its reputation for integrity in sourcing its merchandise, which, if adversely affected could impact consumer sentiment and willingness to purchase Signet’s merchandise.

As about 20% of Signet’s sales are accounted for by its UK division, and economic conditions in the eurozone, including the ongoing sovereign debt crisis in Europe, have a significant impact on the UK economy even though the UK is not a member. Therefore developments in the eurozone could adversely impact trading in the UK division. In addition, developments in the eurozone could also adversely impact the US economy.

About half of US sales are made utilizing customer finance provided by Signet. Therefore any deterioration in the consumers’ financial position could adversely impact sales and earnings

Any significant deterioration in general economic conditions or increase in consumer debt levels may inhibit consumers’ use of credit and decrease the consumers’ ability to satisfy Signet’s requirement for access to customer finance and could in turn have an adverse effect on the US division’s sales. Furthermore, any downturn in general or local economic conditions, in particular an increase in unemployment in the markets in which the US division operates, may adversely affect its collection of outstanding accounts receivable, its net bad debt charge and hence earnings.

Changes to the regulatory requirements regarding the granting of credit to customers could adversely impact sales and operating income

About half of Signet’s US sales utilize its in-house customer financing programs and about a further 35% of purchases are made using third party bank cards. Signet’s ability to extend credit to customers and the terms on which it is achieved depends on many factors, including compliance with applicable state and federal laws and regulations, any of which may change from time to time, and such changes in law relating to the provision of credit and associated services could adversely affect sales and income. In addition, other restrictions arising from applicable law could cause limitations in credit terms currently offered or a reduction in the level of credit granted by the US division, or by third parties, and this could adversely impact sales, income or cash flow, as could any reduction in the level of credit granted by the US division, or by third parties, as a result of the restrictions placed on fees and interest charged.

The US Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law in July 2010. Among other things, the US Dodd-Frank Act creates a Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection with broad rule-making and supervisory authority for a wide range of consumer financial services, including Signet’s customer finance

 

27


Table of Contents

programs. The Bureau’s authority became effective in July 2011. Any new regulatory initiatives by the Bureau could impose additional costs and/or restrictions on credit practices on the US division, which could adversely affect its ability to conduct its business.

Signet’s share price may be volatile

Signet’s share price may fluctuate substantially as a result of variations in the actual or anticipated results and financial conditions of Signet and of other companies in the retail industry. In addition, the stock market has experienced price and volume fluctuations that have affected the market price of many retail and other shares in a manner unrelated, or disproportionate to, the operating performance of these companies.

The concentration of a significant proportion of sales and an even larger share of profits in the fourth quarter means results are dependent on the performance during that period

Signet’s business is highly seasonal, with a significant proportion of its sales and operating profit generated during its fourth quarter, which includes the Holiday Season. Management expects to continue to experience a seasonal fluctuation in its sales and earnings. Therefore there is limited ability to compensate for shortfalls in fourth quarter sales or earnings by changes in its operations and strategies in other quarters, or to recover from any extensive disruption, for example due to sudden adverse changes in consumer confidence, inclement weather conditions having an impact on a significant number of stores in the last few days immediately before Christmas Day or disruption to warehousing and store replenishment systems. A significant shortfall in results for the fourth quarter of any fiscal year would therefore be expected to have a material adverse effect on the annual results of operations. Disruption at lesser peaks in sales at Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day would impact the results to a lesser extent.

Signet is dependent on a variety of financing resources to fund its operations and growth which may include equity, cash balances and debt financing

While Signet has a strong balance sheet with significant cash balances and available lines of credit, it is dependent upon the availability of equity, cash balances and debt financing to fund its operations and growth. If Signet’s access to capital were to become significantly constrained, its financing costs would likely increase, its financial condition would be harmed and future results of operations could be adversely affected. The changes in general credit market conditions also affect Signet’s ability to arrange, and the cost of arranging, credit facilities.

Management prepares annual budgets, medium term plans and risk models which help to identify the future capital requirements, so that appropriate facilities can be put in place on a timely basis. If these models are inaccurate, adequate facilities may not be available.

Signet’s borrowing agreements include various financial covenants and operating restrictions. A material deterioration in its financial performance could result in a covenant being breached. If Signet were to breach, or believed it was going to breach, a financial covenant it would have to renegotiate its terms with current lenders or find alternative sources of finance if current lenders required cancellation of facilities or early repayment.

In addition, Signet’s reputation in the financial markets and its corporate governance practices can influence the availability of capital, the cost of capital and its share price.

Restrictions on Signet’s ability to make distributions to shareholders could be imposed under future borrowing agreements and may have an adverse impact on the share price

During most of calendar 2009 and 2010, Signet was restricted from making distributions to shareholders under the terms of its borrowing agreements. Although these restrictions are no longer in place, future borrowing agreements may contain restrictions on shareholder distributions, which may have an adverse impact on the share price.

 

28


Table of Contents

As Signet has material cash balances, it is exposed to counterparty credit risks

At January 28, 2012, Signet had cash and cash equivalents of $486.8 million (January 29, 2011: $302.1 million). Signet holds its cash and cash equivalents predominantly in ‘AAA’ rated liquidity funds and in various bank accounts. If an institution or fund in which Signet invests its cash and cash equivalents were to default or become insolvent, Signet may be unable to recover these amounts or obtain access to them in a timely manner.

Movements in the pound sterling to US dollar exchange rates impact the results and balance sheet of Signet

Signet publishes its consolidated annual financial statements in US dollars. It held approximately 88% of its total assets in US dollars at January 28, 2012 and generated approximately 81% of its sales and 92% of its operating income in US dollars for the fiscal year then ended. Nearly all the remaining assets, sales and operating income are in the UK. Therefore its results and balance sheet are subject to fluctuations in the exchange rate between the pound sterling and the US dollar. Accordingly, any decrease in the weighted average value of the pound sterling against the US dollar would decrease reported sales and operating income.

The average exchange rate is used to prepare the income statement and is calculated from the weekly average exchange rates weighted by sales of the UK division. As a result, Signet’s results are particularly impacted by movements in the fourth quarter of its fiscal year, with the exchange rate in the first four weeks of December having the largest impact on the average exchange rate used. A movement in the year to date exchange rate from that in the prior quarter in a particular fiscal year will result in that quarter’s results being impacted by adjustments to sales and costs in prior quarters to reflect the changed year to date exchange rate. This can have a particularly noticeable impact on results for the third quarter. In addition, as the UK division’s selling, general and administrative expenses are spread more evenly between quarters than its sales, these expenses can be particularly impacted in the fourth quarter.

Where pounds sterling are held or used to fund the cash flow requirements of the business, any decrease in the weighted average value of the pound sterling against the US dollar would reduce the amount of cash and cash equivalents and increase the amount of any pounds sterling borrowings.

In addition, the prices of materials and certain products bought on the international markets by the UK division are denominated in US dollars, and therefore the UK division has an exposure to exchange rate fluctuations on the cost of goods sold.

Fluctuations in the availability and pricing of commodities, particularly polished diamonds and gold, which account for the majority of Signet’s merchandise costs, could adversely impact its earnings and cash availability

The jewelry industry generally is affected by fluctuations in the price and supply of diamonds, gold and, to a lesser extent, other precious and semi-precious metals and stones. In particular, diamonds account for about 53% of Signet’s merchandise costs, and gold about 17%.

Due to the sharp decline in demand for diamonds in the second half of Fiscal 2009, and in the first six months of Fiscal 2010, particularly in the US, which accounts for about 40% of worldwide demand, the supply chain was overstocked with polished diamonds. Combined with the reduced levels of credit availability, the over-supply of diamonds resulted in decreases in the price of loose polished diamonds of all sizes and qualities. This was particularly marked in diamonds larger, and of better quality, than the type that Signet typically purchases. In the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2010 and during Fiscal 2011, the price of polished diamonds purchased by Signet increased but remained below Fiscal 2009 levels. In Fiscal 2012, the cost of diamonds increased markedly in the first half of the year, reaching record levels. Diamond costs decreased in the second half of the year, but remained significantly above those of Fiscal 2009.

 

29


Table of Contents

It is forecast that over the medium and longer term, the demand for diamonds will probably increase faster than the growth in supply, particularly as a result of growing demand in countries such as China and India. Therefore the cost of diamonds is anticipated to rise over time, although fluctuations in price are likely to occur. In the short term, the mining, production and inventory policies followed by major producers of rough diamonds can have a significant impact on diamond prices, as can the inventory and buying patterns of jewelry retailers. A major new source of rough diamonds is being developed in Zimbabwe, and the impact of this, including on the availability and price of diamonds, is unknown.

While jewelry manufacturing is the major final demand for gold, management believes that the cost of gold is predominantly driven by investment transactions which have resulted in a significant increase in its cost. Therefore Signet’s cost of merchandise and potentially its earnings may be adversely impacted by investment market considerations.

An inability to increase retail prices to reflect higher commodity costs would result in lower profitability. Historically jewelry retailers have been able, over time, to increase prices to reflect changes in commodity costs. However, particularly sharp increases in commodity costs may result in a time lag before increased commodity costs are fully reflected in retail prices. Volatility in commodity costs may also result in a time lag before cost increases are reflected in retail prices. There is no certainty that such price increases will be sustainable, so downward pressure on gross margins and earnings may occur. In addition, any sustained increases in the cost of commodities could result in the need to fund a higher level of inventory or changes in the merchandise available to the customer.

Diamonds are the largest product category sold by Signet. The supply and price of diamonds in the principal world markets are significantly influenced by a single entity—the Diamond Trading Company (“DTC”), a subsidiary of De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited (“De Beers”). The DTC’s share of the diamond supply chain has decreased over recent years, which may result in more volatility in rough diamond prices. In November 2011, Anglo American plc (“Anglo American”) announced that it had agreed to acquire an additional 40% of the equity of De Beers, which would increase its ownership from 45% to 85%. This transaction is subject to regulatory approval. In addition, the government of Botswana has an option to acquire 10% of De Beers, which if exercised would reduce Anglo American’s proposed holding to 75%. It is uncertain what the impact of this transaction may have on De Beers.

The availability of diamonds is significantly influenced by the political situation in diamond producing countries and by the Kimberley Process, an inter-governmental agreement for the international trading of rough diamonds. Until acceptable alternative sources of diamonds can be developed, any sustained interruption in the supply of diamonds from significant producing countries, or to the trading in rough and polished diamonds which could occur as a result of disruption to the Kimberley Process, could adversely affect Signet and the retail jewelry market as a whole. The Kimberley Process chair for 2012, which is held by the United States, has initiated a process to review ways to strengthen and reform the Kimberley Process, including reviewing the definition of a conflict diamond. The current Kimberley Process decision making procedure is dependent on reaching a consensus among member governments, which can result in the protracted resolution of issues. The impact of this review process on the supply of diamonds, and consumers’ perception of the diamond supply chain, is unknown. In addition to the Kimberley Process, the supply of diamonds to the US and the UK is also impacted by governmental trade sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, where as mentioned above, a major new source of rough diamonds is being developed.

The possibility of constraints in the supply of diamonds of a size and quality Signet requires to meet its merchandising requirements may result in changes in Signet’s supply chain practices. For example, Signet may from time to time choose to hold more inventory, to purchase raw materials at an earlier stage in the supply chain or enter into commercial agreements of a nature that it currently does not use. Such actions would require the investment of cash and/or additional management skills. Such actions may not result in the expected returns and other projected benefits anticipated by management.

 

30


Table of Contents

The SEC pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act issued proposed rules that, once adopted in a final form, would require disclosure and reporting on the source and use of certain minerals, including gold from the conflict zones of the Democratic Republic of Congo and adjoining countries. The gold supply chain is complex and, while management believes that the rules will only cover less than 1% of annual worldwide gold production (based upon current estimates), the final rules are expected to require Signet and other jewelry retailers and manufacturers that file with the SEC to exercise due diligence in determining the origin of the statutorily designated minerals that are used in products sold by Signet in the US and elsewhere. The rules are likely to add to Signet’s costs, but management does not expect this increase to be material. Due to the complexity of the world gold supply chain, there may be reputational risks with customers and other stakeholders if Signet is unable to sufficiently verify the origin for the relevant metals, which Signet may be required to disclose under the new rules. Also, if the responses of parts of Signet’s supply chain to the verification requests are adverse, it may harm Signet’s ability to obtain merchandise and add to compliance costs. The proposed rules also cover tungsten, which is contained in a small proportion of items that are sold by Signet. Other minerals, such as diamonds, could be added to those currently covered by these rules.

Price increases may have an adverse impact on Signet’s performance

If significant price increases are implemented, by either division, across a wide range of merchandise, the impact on earnings will depend on, among other factors, the pricing by competitors of similar products and the response by the customer to higher prices. Such price increases may result in lower achieved gross margin dollars and adversely impact earnings.

While Signet’s major competitors are other specialty jewelers, Signet also faces competition from other retailers, including department stores, discount stores, apparel outlets and internet sellers of jewelry. In addition, other retail categories, for example electronics, and other forms of expenditure, such as travel, also compete for consumers’ discretionary expenditure. This is particularly so during the Christmas gift giving season. Therefore the price of jewelry relative to other products influences the proportion of consumers’ expenditure that is spent on jewelry. If the relative price of jewelry increases, Signet’s sales and earnings may decline.

The failure to satisfy the accounting requirements for ‘hedge accounting’, or default or insolvency of a counterparty to a hedging contract, could adversely impact results

Signet hedges a portion of its purchases of gold for both its US and UK divisions and US dollar requirements of its UK division. The failure to satisfy the requirements of the appropriate accounting requirements, or a default or insolvency of a counterparty to a contract, could increase the volatility of results and may impact the timing of recognition of gains and losses in the income statement.

The inability of Signet to obtain merchandise that customers wish to purchase, particularly ahead of and during, the fourth quarter would adversely impact sales

The abrupt loss or disruption of any significant supplier during the three month period (August to October) leading up to the fourth quarter would result in a material adverse effect on Signet’s business.

Also, if management misjudges expected customer demand, or fails to identify changes in customer demand and/or its supply chain does not respond in a timely manner, it could adversely impact Signet’s results by causing either a shortage of merchandise or an accumulation of excess inventory.

Signet benefits from close commercial relationships with a number of suppliers. Damage to, or loss of, any of these relationships could have a detrimental effect on results. Management holds regular reviews with major suppliers. Signet’s most significant supplier accounts for 6% of merchandise. Government requirements regarding sources of commodities, such as those required by the Dodd-Frank Act, could result in Signet choosing to terminate relationships with a limited number of suppliers.

 

31


Table of Contents

Luxury and prestige watch manufacturers and distributors normally grant agencies to sell their ranges on a store by store basis, and most of the leading brands have been steadily reducing the number of agencies in the US and the UK over recent years. The watch brands sold by Ernest Jones, and to a lesser extent Jared, help attract customers and build sales in all categories. Therefore an inability to obtain or retain watch agencies for a location could harm the performance of that particular store. In the case of Ernest Jones, the inability to gain additional prestige watch agencies is an important factor in, and does reduce the likelihood of, opening new stores, which could adversely impact sales growth.

The growth in importance of branded merchandise within the jewelry market may adversely impact Signet’s sales and earnings if it is unable to obtain supplies of branded merchandise that the customer wishes to purchase. In addition, if Signet loses the distribution rights to an important branded jewelry range, it could adversely impact sales and earnings.

Signet has had success in recent years in the development of branded merchandise that is exclusive to its stores. If Signet is not able to further develop such branded merchandise, or is unable to successfully develop further such initiatives, it may adversely impact sales and earnings.

An inability to recruit, train, motivate and retain suitably qualified sales associates could adversely impact sales and earnings

In specialty jewelry retailing, the level and quality of customer service is a key competitive factor as nearly every in-store transaction involves the sales associate taking a piece of jewelry or a watch out of a display case and presenting it to the potential customer. Therefore an inability to recruit, train, motivate and retain suitably qualified sales associates could adversely impact sales and earnings.

Loss of confidence by consumers in Signet’s brand names, poor execution of marketing programs and reduced marketing expenditure could have a detrimental impact on sales

Primary factors in determining customer buying decisions in the jewelry sector include customer confidence in the retailer and in the brands it sells, together with the level and quality of customer service. The ability to differentiate Signet’s stores and merchandise from competitors by its branding, marketing and advertising programs is an important factor in attracting consumers. If these programs are poorly executed or the level of support for them is reduced, or the customer loses confidence in any of Signet’s brands for whatever reason, it could unfavorably impact sales and earnings.

In the past, the DTC has promoted unbranded diamonds and diamond jewelry in the US. The level of support provided by the DTC and the success of the promotions influenced the size of the total jewelry market in the US. As the DTC’s market share of rough diamond sales has decreased, it has refocused its worldwide marketing efforts on its own brand and substantially decreased the DTC’s marketing support for unbranded diamonds and diamond jewelry in the US. The impact of these actions is unknown and could unfavorably impact the overall market for diamonds and diamond jewelry and adversely impact Signet’s sales and earnings.

Long-term changes in consumer attitudes to jewelry could be unfavorable and harm jewelry sales

Consumer attitudes to diamonds, gold and other precious metals and gemstones also influence the level of Signet’s sales. Attitudes could be affected by a variety of issues including concern over the source of raw materials; the impact of mining and refining of minerals on the environment, the local community and the political stability of the producing country; labor conditions in the supply chain; and the availability and consumer attitudes to substitute products such as cubic zirconia, moissanite and of laboratory created diamonds. A negative change in consumer attitudes to jewelry could adversely impact sales and earnings.

 

32


Table of Contents

The retail jewelry industry is highly fragmented and competitive. Aggressive discounting or “going out of business” sales by competitors may adversely impact Signet’s performance in the short term

The retail jewelry industry is competitive. If Signet’s competitive position deteriorates, operating results or financial condition could be adversely affected.

Aggressive discounting by competitors, particularly those holding “going out of business” sales, may adversely impact Signet’s performance in the short term. This is particularly the case for easily comparable pieces of jewelry, of similar quality, sold through stores that are situated near to those that Signet operates.

As a result of the growth of Jared and the development of Kay outside of its enclosed mall base, the US division is increasingly competing with independent specialty jewelry retailers that are able to adjust their competitive stance, for example on pricing, to local market conditions. This can put individual Signet stores at a competitive disadvantage as the US division has a national pricing strategy.

The inability to rent stores that satisfy management’s operational and financial criteria could harm sales, as could changes in locations where customers shop

Signet’s results are dependent on a number of factors relating to its stores. These include the availability of desirable property, the demographic characteristics of the area around the store, the design, and maintenance of the stores, the availability of attractive locations within the shopping center that also meet the operational and financial criteria of management, the terms of leases and its relationship with major landlords. The US division leases 16% of its store locations from Simon Property Group and 10% from General Growth Management. Signet has no other relationship with any lessor relating to 10% or more of its store locations. If Signet is unable to rent stores that satisfy its operational and financial criteria, or if there is a disruption in its relationship with its major landlords, sales could be adversely affected.

Given the length of property leases that Signet enters into, it is dependent upon the continued popularity of particular retail locations. As Signet tests and develops new types of store locations and designs, there is no certainty as to their success. The majority of long-term space growth opportunities in the US are in new developments and therefore future store space is largely dependent on the investment by real estate developers on new projects. Currently there is limited new real estate development taking place, making it challenging to identify and secure suitable new store locations. The UK division has a more diverse range of store locations than in the US, including some exposure to smaller retail centers which do not justify the investment required to refurbish the site to the current store format. Consequently the UK division is gradually closing stores in such locations as leases expire or satisfactory property transactions can be executed; however the ability to secure such property transactions is not certain. As the UK division is already represented in nearly all major retail centers, a small annual decrease in store space is expected in the medium term which will adversely impact sales growth.

The rate of new store development is dependent on a number of factors including obtaining suitable real estate, the capital resources of Signet, the availability of appropriate staff and management and the level of the financial return on investment required by management.

Signet’s success is dependent on the strength and effectiveness of its relationships with its various stakeholders whose behavior may be affected by its management of social, ethical and environmental risks

Social, ethical and environmental matters influence Signet’s reputation, demand for merchandise by consumers, the ability to recruit staff, relations with suppliers and standing in the financial markets. Signet’s success is dependent on the strength and effectiveness of its relationships with its various stakeholders: customers, shareholders, employees and suppliers. In recent years, stakeholder expectations have increased and Signet’s success and reputation will depend on its ability to meet these higher expectations.

 

33


Table of Contents

Inadequacies in and disruption to internal controls and systems could result in lower sales and increased costs or adversely impact the reporting and control procedures

Signet is dependent on the suitability, reliability and durability of its systems and procedures, including its accounting, information technology, data protection, warehousing and distribution systems. If support ceased for a critical externally supplied software package or system, management would have to implement an alternative software package or system or begin supporting the software internally. Disruption to parts of the business could result in lower sales and increased costs.

Security breaches and other disruptions to Signet’s information technology infrastructure and databases could interfere with Signet’s operations, and could compromise Signet’s and its customers’ and suppliers’ information, exposing Signet to liability which would cause Signet’s business and reputation to suffer.

Signet operates in multiple channels and, in the US division, maintains its own customer finance operation. Signet is also increasingly using mobile devices, social networks and other online activities to connect with customers, staff and other stakeholders. Therefore, in the ordinary course of business, Signet relies upon information technology networks and systems, some of which are managed by third parties, to process, transmit and store electronic information, and to manage or support a variety of business processes and activities, including supply chain, merchandise distribution, customer invoicing and collection of payments. Signet uses information technology systems to record, process and summarize financial information and results of operations for internal reporting purposes and to comply with regulatory financial reporting, legal and tax requirements. Additionally, Signet collects and stores sensitive data, including intellectual property, proprietary business information, the propriety business information of our customers and suppliers, as well as personally identifiable information of Signet’s customers and employees, in data centers and on information technology networks. The secure operation of these information technology networks, and the processing and maintenance of this information is critical to Signet’s business operations and strategy. Despite security measures and business continuity plans, Signet’s information technology networks and infrastructure may be vulnerable to damage, disruptions or shutdowns due to attacks by hackers or breaches due to employee error or malfeasance, or other disruptions during the process of upgrading or replacing computer software or hardware, power outages, computer viruses, telecommunication or utility failures or natural disasters or other catastrophic events. The occurrence of any of these events could compromise Signet’s networks and the information stored there could be accessed, publicly disclosed, lost or stolen. Any such access, disclosure or other loss of information could result in legal claims or proceedings, liability or regulatory penalties under laws protecting the privacy of personal information, disrupt operations, and damage Signet’s reputation, which could adversely affect Signet’s business. In addition, it could harm Signet’s ability to execute its business and adversely impact sales, costs and earnings.

An adverse decision in legal proceedings and/or tax matters could reduce earnings

In March 2008, private plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit for an unspecified amount against Sterling Jewelers Inc. (“Sterling”), a subsidiary of Signet, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York federal court. In September 2008, the US Equal Employment Opportunities Commission filed a lawsuit against Sterling in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. Sterling denies the allegations from both parties and intends to defend them vigorously. If, however, it is unsuccessful in either defense, Sterling could be required to pay substantial damages. At this point, no outcome or amount of loss is able to be estimated.

At any point in time, various tax years are subject to, or are in the process of, audit by various taxing authorities. To the extent that management’s estimates of settlements change, or the final tax outcome of these matters is different than the amounts recorded, such differences will impact income tax in the period in which such determinations are made.

Failure to comply with labor regulations could harm the business

Failure by Signet to comply with labor regulations could result in fines and legal actions. In addition, the ability to recruit and retain staff could be harmed.

 

34


Table of Contents

Failure to comply with changes in law and regulations could adversely affect the business

Signet’s policies and procedures are designed to comply with all applicable laws and regulations. Changing legal and regulatory requirements have increased the complexity of the regulatory environment in which the business operates and the cost of compliance. Failure to comply with the various regulatory requirements may result in damage to Signet’s reputation, civil and criminal liability, fines and penalties, and further increase the cost of regulatory compliance. Changes in tax legislation, for example, the elimination of LIFO for US tax accounting purposes, could adversely impact earnings or cash flow.

Any difficulty executing an acquisition, a business combination or a major business initiative may result in expected returns and other projected benefits from such an exercise not being realized

Any difficulty in executing an acquisition, a business combination or a major business initiative may result in expected returns and other projected benefits from such an exercise not being realized. A significant transaction could also disrupt the operation of its current activities. Signet’s current borrowing agreements place certain limited constraints on its ability to make an acquisition or enter into a business combination, and future borrowing agreements could place tighter constraints on such actions.

Changes in assumptions used in making accounting estimates or in accounting standards may adversely impact investor perception of the business

Changes in assumptions used in making accounting estimates relating to items such as extended service plans and pensions, may adversely affect Signet’s financial results and balance sheet. Changes in accounting standards, such as those currently being considered relating to leases, could materially impact the presentation of Signet’s results and balance sheet. Investors’ reaction to any such change in presentation is unknown. Such changes could also impact the way that the business is managed and access to the credit markets.

Loss of one or more key executive officers or employees could adversely impact performance, as could the appointment of an inappropriate successor or successors

Signet’s future success will partly depend upon the ability of senior management and other key employees to implement an appropriate business strategy. While Signet has entered into employment contracts with such key personnel, the retention of their services cannot be guaranteed and the loss of such services, or the inability to attract and retain talented personnel, could have a material adverse effect on Signet’s ability to conduct its business. In addition, any new executives may wish, subject to Board approval, to change the strategy of Signet. The appointment of new executives may therefore adversely impact performance.

Investors may face difficulties in enforcing proceedings against Signet Jewelers Limited as it is domiciled in Bermuda

It is doubtful whether courts in Bermuda would enforce judgments obtained by investors in other jurisdictions, including the US and the UK, against the Company or its directors or officers under the securities laws of those jurisdictions or entertain actions in Bermuda against the Company or its directors or officers under the securities laws of other jurisdictions.

 

ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 2. PROPERTIES

Signet attributes great importance to the location and appearance of its stores. Accordingly, in both Signet’s US and UK operations, investment decisions on selecting sites and refurbishing stores are made centrally, and strict real estate and investment criteria are applied.

 

35


Table of Contents

US property

Substantially all of Signet’s US stores are leased. In addition to a minimum annual rental, the majority of mall stores are also liable to pay rent based on sales above a specified base level. In Fiscal 2012, most of the division’s mall stores only made base rental payments. Under the terms of a typical lease, the US business is required to conform and maintain its usage to agreed standards, including meeting required advertising expenditure as a percentage of sales, and is responsible for its proportionate share of expenses associated with common area maintenance, utilities and taxes of the mall. The initial term of a mall store lease is generally ten years. Towards the end of a lease, management evaluates whether to renew a lease and refit the store, using similar operational and investment criteria as for a new store. Where management is uncertain whether the location will meet management’s required return on investment, but the store is profitable, the leases may be renewed for one to three years during which time the store’s performance is further evaluated. There are typically about 200 such mall brand stores at any one time. Jared stores are normally opened on 20 year leases with options to extend the lease, and rents are not sales related. A refurbishment of a Jared store is normally undertaken every ten years. At January 28, 2012, the average unexpired lease term of US leased premises was five years, and over 60% of these leases had terms expiring within five years. The cost of refitting a store is similar to the cost of fitting out a new store which is typically between $350,000 and $400,000 for a mall location and between $850,000 and $1,250,000 for a Jared store. In Fiscal 2009, Fiscal 2010 and Fiscal 2011, the level of new store openings was substantially below that in Fiscal 2006, Fiscal 2007 and Fiscal 2008. Management expects that about 45 new stores (about 34 Kay and 11 Jared) will be opened during Fiscal 2013. In Fiscal 2012, the level of major store refurbishment increased with 70 locations, including 16 Jared locations, being completed (Fiscal 2011: 21, including 16 Jared locations). It is anticipated that refurbishment activity in Fiscal 2013 will involve 91 stores, including about 22 Jared locations. The investment will be financed by cash flow from operating activities.

The US division leases 16% of its store locations from Simon Property Group and 10% from General Growth Management, Inc. The US division has no other relationship with any lessor relating to 10% or more of its store locations. At January 28, 2012, the US division had 2.37 million square feet of selling space (January 29, 2011: 2.34 million).

During the past five fiscal years, the US business generally has been successful in renewing its store leases as they expire and has not experienced difficulty in securing suitable locations for its stores. No store lease is individually material to Signet’s US operations.

A 340,000 square foot head office and distribution facility is leased in Akron, Ohio through 2032. An 86,000 square foot office building next door to the head office is also leased through 2032, to which Signet plans to relocate its credit operations to in Fiscal 2013. A 19,000 square foot repair center was opened in Akron, Ohio during Fiscal 2006 and is owned by a subsidiary of Signet. Management intends to expand the repair center in Fiscal 2013.

UK property

At January 28, 2012, Signet’s UK division operated from six freehold premises, five premises where the lease had a remaining term in excess of 25 years and 524 other leasehold premises. The division’s stores are generally leased under full repairing and insuring leases (equivalent to triple net leases in the US). Wherever possible Signet is shortening the length of new leases that it enters into, or including break clauses in order to improve the flexibility of its lease commitments. At January 28, 2012, the average unexpired lease term of UK premises with lease terms of less than 25 years was seven years, and a majority of leases had either break clauses or terms expiring within five years. Rents are usually subject to upward review every five years if market conditions so warrant. An increasing proportion of rents also have an element related to the sales of a store, subject to a minimum annual value. For details of assigned leases and sublet premises see Note 21 of Item 8.

At the end of the lease period, subject to certain limited exceptions, UK leaseholders generally have statutory rights to enter into a new lease of the premises on negotiated terms. As current leases expire, Signet believes that

 

36


Table of Contents

it will be able to renew leases, if desired, for present store locations or to obtain leases in equivalent or improved locations in the same general area. Signet has not experienced difficulty in securing leases for suitable locations for its UK stores. No store lease is individually material to Signet’s UK operations.

A typical UK store undergoes a major refurbishment every ten years and a less costly store redecoration every five years. It is intended that these investments will be financed by cash from operating activities. The cost of refitting a store is typically between £150,000 and £250,000 for both H.Samuel and Ernest Jones, with the cost in prestige locations typically double those amounts.

The UK division has no relationship with any lessor relating to 10% or more of its store locations. At January 28, 2012, the UK division has 0.53 million square feet of selling space (January 29, 2011: 0.53 million).

Signet owns a 255,000 square foot warehouse and distribution center in Birmingham, where certain of the UK division’s central administration functions are based, as well as eCommerce fulfillment. The remaining activities are situated in a 36,200 square foot office in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire which is held on a 15 year lease entered into in 2005. There are no plans for any major capital expenditure related to offices or the distribution center in the UK.

Certain corporate functions are located in a 7,200 square foot office in central London, on a ten year lease which was entered into in 2005.

Distribution capacity

Both divisions have sufficient capacity to meet their current needs.

 

ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

See discussion of legal proceedings in Note 21 of Item 8.

 

ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE

Not applicable.

 

37


Table of Contents

PART II

 

ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

Market information

The principal trading market for the Company’s Common Shares is the NYSE (symbol: SIG). The Company also maintains a standard listing of its Common Shares on the London Stock Exchange (symbol: SIG).

The following table sets forth the high and low share price on each stock exchange for the periods indicated.

 

     New York
Stock Exchange
Price per share
     London
Stock Exchange
Price per share
 
     High      Low      High      Low  
     $      £  

Fiscal 2011

           

First quarter

     34.10         26.59         22.15         16.95   

Second quarter

     32.79         27.31         23.25         17.96   

Third quarter

     35.31         26.44         22.13         17.24   

Fourth quarter

     44.30         35.27         28.20         21.90   

Full year

     44.30         26.44         28.20         16.95   

Fiscal 2012

           

First quarter

     46.50         41.18         28.85         25.74   

Second quarter

     48.01         40.45         29.86         24.78   

Third quarter

     44.52         31.26         27.83         19.36   

Fourth quarter

     47.38         41.49         30.44         26.13   

Full year

     48.01         31.26         30.44         19.36   

Number of holders

As of March 15, 2012, there were 11,995 shareholders of record. However when including shareholders that hold equity in broker accounts under street names, nominee accounts or employee share purchase plans, management estimates the shareholder base at approximately 29,000.

Dividend policy

On August 25, 2011, the Board approved the commencement of paying quarterly cash dividends on Signet’s Common Shares and declared the first quarterly cash dividend of $0.10 per Signet Common Share. In Fiscal 2011, a dividend of $0.10 per Common Share was paid on November 28, 2011. A dividend of $0.10 was also paid on February 27, 2012. Future payments of quarterly dividends will be based on Signet’s ability to satisfy all applicable statutory and regulatory requirements and its continued financial strength. Any future payment of cash dividends will depend upon such factors as Signet’s earnings, capital requirements, financial condition, financing agreement restrictions, and other factors deemed relevant by the Board.

 

38


Table of Contents

Share Repurchases

The following table contains the Company’s repurchases of equity securities in the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2012:

 

Period

   Total
Number of
Shares
Purchased(1)
     Average
Price Paid
per Share
     Total
Number of
Shares
Purchased
as Part of
Publicly
Announced
Plans or
Programs(1)
     Maximum
Number (or
Approximate
Dollar Value)
of Shares that
May Yet Be
Purchased
Under the
Plans or
Programs
 

October 30, 2011 to November 26, 2011

     —           —           —         $ 300,000,000   

November 27, 2011 to December 24, 2011

     —           —           —         $ 300,000,000   

December 25, 2011 to January 28, 2012

     256,241       $ 45.94         256,241       $ 288,227,606   
  

 

 

       

 

 

    

Total

     256,241       $ 45.94         256,241       $ 288,227,606   

 

(1) In October 2011, Signet’s Board of Directors authorized a program to repurchase up to $300 million of Signet’s Common Shares (the “2011 Program”). Repurchases may be made from time to time in the open market, through block trades or otherwise. The timing, manner, price and amount of any repurchases will be determined by the Company in its discretion, and will be subject to economic and market conditions, stock prices, applicable legal requirements and other factors. The 2011 Program may be commenced, suspended or discontinued at any time without notice. Reflecting the Company’s customary trading “quiet periods,” the Program became effective on January 16, 2012, and will last 24 months from that date.

Performance graph

The following Performance Graph and related information shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or to be filed with the SEC, nor shall such information be incorporated by reference into any future filing under the Securities Act of 1933 or Securities Exchange Act of 1934, each as amended, except to the extent that Signet specifically incorporates it by reference into such filing.

Historical share price performance should not be relied upon as an indication of future share price performance.

The following graph compares the cumulative total return to holders of Signet’s Common Shares against the cumulative total return of the Russell 1000 Index and Dow Jones General Retailers Index for the five year period ended January 28, 2012. The comparison of the cumulative total returns for each investment assumes that $100 was invested in Signet’s Common Shares and the respective indices on January 28, 2007 through January 28, 2012 including reinvestment of any dividends, and is adjusted to reflect a 1-for-20 share consolidation in September 2008.

 

LOGO

 

39


Table of Contents

Exchange controls

The Company is classified by the Bermuda Monetary Authority as a non-resident of Bermuda for exchange control purposes. The transfer of Common Shares between persons regarded as resident outside Bermuda for exchange control purposes may be effected without specific consent under the Exchange Control Act of 1972 and regulations thereunder and the issue of Common Shares to persons regarded as resident outside Bermuda for exchange control purposes may be effected without specific consent under the Exchange Control Act of 1972 and regulations thereunder. Issues and transfers of Common Shares involving any person regarded as resident in Bermuda for exchange control purposes may require specific prior approval under the Exchange Control Act of 1972.

The owners of Common Shares who are ordinarily resident outside Bermuda are not subject to any restrictions on their rights to hold or vote their shares. Because the Company has been designated as a non-resident for Bermuda exchange control purposes, there are no restrictions on its ability to transfer funds in and out of Bermuda or to pay dividends to US residents who are holders of Common Shares, other than in respect of local Bermuda currency.

Taxation

The following are brief and general summaries of the United States and United Kingdom taxation treatment of holding and disposing of Common Shares. The summaries are based on existing law, including statutes, regulations, administrative rulings and court decisions, and what is understood to be current Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and HM Revenue & Customs (“HMRC”) practice, all as in effect on the date of this document. Future legislative, judicial or administrative changes or interpretations could alter or modify statements and conclusions set forth below, and these changes or interpretations could be retroactive and could affect the tax consequences of holding and disposing of Common Shares. The summaries do not consider the consequences of holding and disposing of Common Shares under tax laws of countries other than the US (or any US laws other than those pertaining to federal income tax), the UK and Bermuda, nor do the summaries consider any alternative minimum tax, state or local consequences of holding and disposing of Common Shares.

The summaries provide general guidance to US holders (as defined below) who hold Common Shares as capital assets (within the meaning of section 1221 of the US Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “US Code”)) and to persons resident, ordinarily resident and domiciled for tax purposes in the UK who hold Common Shares as an investment, and not to any holders who are taxable in the UK on a remittance basis or who are subject to special tax rules, such as banks, financial institutions, broker-dealers, persons subject to mark-to-market treatment, UK resident individuals who hold their Common Shares under a personal equity plan, persons that hold their Common Shares as a position in part of a straddle, conversion transaction, constructive sale or other integrated investment, US holders whose “functional currency” is not the US dollar, persons who received their Common Shares by exercising employee share options or otherwise as compensation, persons who have acquired their Common Shares by virtue of any office or employment, S corporations or other pass-through entities (or investors in S corporations or other passthrough entities), mutual funds, insurance companies, tax-exempt organizations, US holders subject to the alternative minimum tax, certain expatriates or former long- term residents of the US, and US holders that directly or by attribution hold 10% or more of the voting power of the Company’s shares. This summary does not address US federal estate tax, state or local taxes, or the recently enacted Medicare tax on investment income.

The summaries are not intended to provide specific advice and no action should be taken or omitted to be taken in reliance upon it. If you are in any doubt about your taxation position, or if you are ordinarily resident or domiciled outside the UK or resident or otherwise subject to taxation in a jurisdiction outside the UK or the US, you should consult your own professional advisers immediately.

The Company is incorporated in Bermuda. The directors intend to conduct the Company’s affairs such that, based on current law and practice of the relevant tax authorities, the Company will not become resident for tax purposes in any other territory. This guidance is written on the basis that the Company does not become resident in a territory other than Bermuda.

 

40


Table of Contents

US Taxation

As used in this discussion, the term “US holder” means a beneficial owner of Common Shares who is for US federal income tax purposes: (i) an individual US citizen or resident; (ii) a corporation, or entity treated as a corporation, created or organized in or under the laws of the United States; (iii) an estate whose income is subject to US federal income taxation regardless of its source; or (iv) a trust if either: (a) a court within the US is able to exercise primary supervision over the administration of such trust and one or more US persons have the authority to control all substantial decisions of such trust; or (b) the trust has a valid election in effect to be treated as a US resident for US federal income tax purposes.

If a partnership (or other entity classified as a partnership for US federal tax income purposes) holds Common Shares, the US federal income tax treatment of a partner will generally depend upon the status of the partner and the activities of the partnership. Partnerships, and partners in partnerships, holding Common Shares are encouraged to consult their tax advisers.

*****

INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE WITH INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE CIRCULAR 230, HOLDERS ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED THAT: (A) ANY DISCUSSION OF US FEDERAL TAX ISSUES CONTAINED OR REFERRED TO IN THIS DOCUMENT IS NOT INTENDED TO BE USED, AND CANNOT BE USED, BY HOLDERS FOR THE PURPOSES OF AVOIDING PENALTIES THAT MAY BE IMPOSED ON THEM UNDER THE INTERNAL REVENUE CODE; (B) SUCH DISCUSSION IS WRITTEN IN CONNECTION WITH THE PROMOTION OR MARKETING OF THE TRANSACTIONS OR MATTERS ADDRESSED HEREIN; AND (C) HOLDERS SHOULD SEEK ADVICE BASED ON THEIR PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES FROM AN INDEPENDENT TAX ADVISER.

*****

Dividends and other distributions upon Common Shares

Distributions made with respect to Common Shares will generally be includable in the income of a US holder as ordinary dividend income, to the extent paid out of current or accumulated earnings and profits of the Company as determined in accordance with US federal income tax principles. The amount of such dividends will generally be treated partly as US-source and partly as foreign-source dividend income in proportion to the earnings from which they are considered paid for as long as 50% or more of the Company’s shares are directly or indirectly owned by US persons. Dividend income received from the Company will not be eligible for the “dividends received deduction” generally allowed to US corporations under the US Code. Subject to applicable limitations, including a requirement that the Common Shares be listed for trading on the NYSE, the NASDAQ Stock Market, or another qualifying US exchange, dividends with respect to Common Shares so listed that are paid to non-corporate US holders in taxable years beginning before January 1, 2013 will generally be taxable at a maximum tax rate of 15%.

Sale or exchange of Common Shares

Gain or loss realized by a US holder on the sale or exchange of Common Shares generally will be subject to US federal income tax as capital gain or loss in an amount equal to the difference between the US holder’s tax basis in the Common Shares and the amount realized on the disposition. Such gain or loss will be long-term capital gain or loss if the US holder held the Common Shares for more than one year. Gain or loss, if any, will generally be US source for foreign tax credit purposes. The deductibility of capital losses is subject to limitations. Non-corporate US holders are eligible for a maximum 15% long-term capital gains taxation rate for long-term capital gains recognized before January 1, 2013.

 

41


Table of Contents

Information reporting and backup withholding

Payments of dividends on, and proceeds from a sale or other disposition of, Common Shares, may, under certain circumstances, be subject to information reporting and backup withholding at a rate of 28% of the cash payable to the holder, unless the holder provides proof of an applicable exemption or furnishes its taxpayer identification number, and otherwise complies with all applicable requirements of the backup withholding rules. Any amounts withheld from payments to a US holder under the backup withholding rules are not additional tax and should be allowed as a refund or credit against the US holder’s US federal income tax liability, provided the required information is timely furnished to the IRS.

Passive foreign investment company status

A non-US corporation will be classified as a passive foreign investment company (a “PFIC”) for any taxable year if at least 75% of its gross income consists of passive income (such as dividends, interest, rents, royalties or gains on the disposition of certain minority interests), or at least 50% of the average value of its assets consists of assets that produce, or are held for the production of, passive income. For the purposes of these rules, a non US corporation is considered to hold and receive directly its proportionate share of the assets and income of any other corporation of whose shares it owns at least 25% by value. Consequently, the Company’s classification under the PFIC rules will depend primarily upon the composition of its assets and income.

If the Company is characterized as a PFIC, US holders would suffer adverse tax consequences, and US federal income tax consequences different from those described above may apply. These consequences may include having gains realized on the disposition of Common Shares treated as ordinary income rather than capital gain and being subject to punitive interest charges on certain distributions and on the proceeds of the sale or other disposition of Common Shares. The Company believes that it is not a PFIC and that it will not be a PFIC for the foreseeable future. However, since the tests for PFIC status depend upon facts not entirely within the Company’s control, such as the amounts and types of its income and values of its assets, no assurance can be provided that the Company will not become a PFIC. US holders should consult their own tax advisers regarding the potential application of the PFIC rules to Common Shares.

New reporting requirement

Legislation was enacted on March 18, 2010 that generally imposes a requirement to file Form 8938 (and related penalties for failure to file) on certain US Holders that hold certain specified foreign financial assets generally in excess of $50,000. The definition of specified foreign financial assets includes not only financial accounts maintained in foreign financial institutions, but also, unless held in accounts maintained by a financial institution, any stock or security issued by a non-US person, any financial instrument or contract held for investment that has an issuer or counterparty other than a US person and any interest in a foreign entity. US holders may be subject to these reporting requirements unless their Common Shares are held in an account at a domestic financial institution. Investors are urged to consult their own tax advisors regarding the possible implications of this recently enacted legislation on their investment in Signet’s Common Shares.

UK Taxation

Chargeable gains

A disposal of Common Shares by a shareholder who is resident or ordinarily resident in the UK may, depending on individual circumstances (including the availability of exemptions or allowable losses), give rise to a liability to (or an allowable loss for the purposes of) UK taxation of chargeable gains.

Any chargeable gain or allowable loss on a disposal of the Common Shares should be calculated taking into account the allowable cost to the holder of acquiring his Common Shares. In the case of corporate shareholders, to this should be added, when calculating a chargeable gain but not an allowable loss, indexation allowance on the allowable cost. (Indexation allowance is not available for non-corporate shareholders).

 

42


Table of Contents

Individuals who hold their Common Shares within an individual savings account (“ISA”) and are entitled to ISA-related tax relief in respect of the same, will generally not be subject to UK taxation of chargeable gains in respect of any gain arising on a disposal of Common Shares.

Taxation of dividends on Common Shares

Under current UK law and practice, UK withholding tax is not imposed on dividends.

Subject to anti-avoidance rules and the satisfaction of certain conditions, UK resident shareholders who are within the charge to UK corporation tax will in general not be subject to corporation tax on dividends paid by the Company on the Common Shares.

A UK resident individual shareholder who is liable to UK income tax at no more than the basic rate will be liable to income tax on dividends paid by the Company on the Common Shares at the dividend ordinary rate (10% in tax year 2011/12). A UK resident individual shareholder who is liable to UK income tax at the higher rate will be subject to income tax on the dividend income at the dividend upper rate (32.5% in 2011/12). A further rate of income tax (the “additional rate”) will apply to individuals with taxable income over a certain threshold, which is currently £150,000 for 2011/12. A UK resident individual shareholder subject to the additional rate will be liable to income tax on their dividend income at the rate of 42.5% of the gross dividend to the extent that the gross dividend when treated as the top slice of the shareholder’s income falls above the current £150,000 threshold.

UK resident individuals in receipt of dividends from the Company, if they own less than a 10% shareholding in the Company, will be entitled to a non-payable dividend tax credit (currently at the rate of 1/9th of the cash dividend paid (or 10% of the aggregate of the net dividend and related tax credit)). Assuming that there is no withholding tax imposed on the dividend (as to which see the section on Bermuda taxation below), the individual is treated as receiving for UK tax purposes gross income equal to the cash dividend plus the tax credit. The tax credit is set against the individual’s tax liability on that gross income. The result is that a UK resident individual shareholder who is liable to UK income tax at no more than the basic rate will have no further UK income tax to pay on a Company dividend. A UK resident individual shareholder who is liable to UK income tax at the higher rate will have further UK income tax to pay of 22.5% of the dividend plus the related tax credit (or 25% of the cash dividend, assuming that there is no withholding tax imposed on that dividend). A UK resident individual subject to income tax at the additional rate will have further UK income tax to pay of 32.5% of the dividend plus the tax credit (or 36 1/9% of the cash dividend, assuming that there is no withholding tax imposed on that dividend), to the extent that the gross dividend falls above the threshold for the 50% rate of income tax.

The UK government is setting out various tax proposals for inclusion in the UK 2012 Finance Bill on March 21, 2012. As of March 20, 2012, there has been speculation in the media that one of the changes that will be proposed is the reduction of the 50% rate of income tax, which may affect shareholders depending on their circumstances, and whether any such reduction will be applicable to dividend income. However, there can be no assurance that such changes will be proposed, or if proposed, will be enacted, or what the actual rate of taxation will be or whether the reduction would be extended to dividend income.

Individual shareholders who hold their Common Shares in an ISA and are entitled to ISA-related tax relief in respect of the same will not be taxed on the dividends from those Common Shares but are not entitled to recover the tax credit on such dividends from HRMC.

Stamp duty/stamp duty reserve tax (“SDRT”)

In practice, stamp duty should generally not need to be paid on an instrument transferring Common Shares. No SDRT will generally be payable in respect of any agreement to transfer Common Shares or Depositary Interests. The statements in this paragraph summarize the current position on stamp duty and SDRT and are intended as a

 

43


Table of Contents

general guide only. They assume that the Company will not be UK managed and controlled and that the Common Shares will not be registered in a register kept in the UK by or on behalf of the Company. The Company has confirmed that it does not intend to keep such a register in the UK.

Bermuda Taxation

At the present time, there is no Bermuda income or profits tax, withholding tax, capital gains tax, capital transfer tax, estate duty or inheritance tax payable by the Company or by its shareholders in respect of its Common Shares. The Company has obtained an assurance from the Minister of Finance of Bermuda under the Exempted Undertakings Tax Protection Act 1966 that, in the event that any legislation is enacted in Bermuda imposing any tax computed on profits or income, or computed on any capital asset, gain or appreciation or any tax in the nature of estate duty or inheritance tax, such tax shall not, until March 31, 2035, be applicable to it or to any of its operations or to its shares, debentures or other obligations except insofar as such tax applies to persons ordinarily resident in Bermuda or is payable by it in respect of real property owned or leased by it in Bermuda.

 

ITEM 6. SELECTED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL DATA

The financial data included below for Fiscal 2012, Fiscal 2011 and Fiscal 2010 have been derived from the audited consolidated financial statements included in Item 8. The financial data for these periods should be read in conjunction with the financial statements, including the notes thereto, and Item 7. The financial data included below for Fiscal 2009 and Fiscal 2008 have been derived from the previously published consolidated audited financial statements not included in this document.

The financial statements of Signet for Fiscal 2008 were originally prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards, which differ in certain respects from US GAAP. Any figures used for that year have been converted to US GAAP in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

     Fiscal
2012
    Fiscal
2011
    Fiscal
2010
    Fiscal
2009
    Fiscal
2008(1)
 
     $million     $million     $million     $million     $million  

Income Statement:

          

Sales

     3,749.2        3,437.4        3,273.6        3,328.0        3,645.6   

Cost of sales

     (2,311.6 )     (2,194.5 )     (2,208.0 )     (2,262.2 )     (2,410.1 )
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Gross margin

     1,437.6        1,242.9        1,065.6        1,065.8        1,235.5   

Selling, general and administrative expenses

     (1,056.7 )     (980.4 )     (916.5 )     (969.2 )     (1,000.8 )

Impairment of goodwill

     —          —          —          (516.9 )     —     

Relisting costs

     —          —          —          (10.5 )     —     

Other operating income, net

     126.5        110.0        115.4        119.2        108.8   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Operating income/(loss), net

     507.4        372.5        264.5        (311.6 )     343.5   

Interest expense, net

     (5.3 )     (72.1 )     (34.0 )     (29.2 )     (22.5 )
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Income/(loss) before income taxes

     502.1        300.4        230.5        (340.8 )     321.0   

Income taxes

     (177.7 )     (100.0 )     (73.4 )     (61.8 )     (110.6 )
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net income/(loss)

     324.4        200.4        157.1        (402.6 )     210.4   

Earnings/(loss) per share: basic

   $ 3.76      $ 2.34      $ 1.84      $ (4.72 )   $ 2.47   

                                           diluted

   $ 3.73      $ 2.32      $ 1.83      $ (4.72 )   $ 2.44   

Dividends per share

   $ 0.20        —          —        $ 1.45      $ 1.45   

 

 

(1) Based on audited IFRS, converted to US GAAP.

 

44


Table of Contents
     Fiscal
2012
    Fiscal
2011
    Fiscal
2010
    Fiscal
2009
    Fiscal
2008(1)
 
     $million     $million     $million     $million     $million  

Balance sheet:

          

Total assets

     3,611.4        3,089.8        3,044.9        3,064.5        3,702.6   

Total liabilities

     (1,332.3     (1,150.8 )     (1,341.3 )     (1,541.8 )     (1,459.5 )
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total shareholders’ equity

     2,279.1        1,939.0        1,703.6        1,522.7        2,243.1   

Working capital

     2,149.1        1,831.3        1,814.3        1,677.4        1,781.4   

Cash and cash equivalents

     486.8        302.1        316.2        96.8        41.7   

Loans and overdrafts

     —          (31.0 )     (44.1 )     (187.5 )     (36.3 )

Long-term debt

     —          —          (280.0 )     (380.0 )     (380.0 )
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net cash/(debt)(2)

     486.8        271.1        (7.9 )     (470.7 )     (374.6 )

Common shares in issue (million)

     86.9        86.2        85.5        85.3        85.3   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Cash flow:

          

Net cash provided by operating activities

     325.2        323.1        515.3        164.4        140.8   

Net cash used in investing activities

     (97.8     (55.6 )     (43.5 )     (113.3 )     (139.4 )

Net cash (used in)/provided by financing activities

     (40.0     (282.3 )     (251.6 )     36.9        (115.8 )
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Increase/(decrease) in cash and cash equivalents

     187.4        (14.8     220.2        88.0        (114.4 )

Ratios:

          

Operating margin

     13.5     10.8     8.1     (9.4 )%      9.4

Effective tax rate

     35.4     33.3 %     31.8 %     (18.1 )%     34.5 %

ROCE(2)

     28.6     23.0 %     15.0 %     10.6 %     17.1 %

 

     Fiscal
2012
    Fiscal
2011
    Fiscal
2010
    Fiscal
2009
    Fiscal
2008
 

Store data:

          

Store numbers (at end of period)

          

US

     1,318        1,317        1,361        1,401        1,399   

UK

     535        540        552        558        563   

Percentage increase/(decrease) in same store sales

          

US

     11.1 %     8.9 %     0.2 %     (9.6 )%     (1.5 )%

UK

     0.9 %     (1.4 )%     (2.4 )%     (3.3 )%     2.0 %

Signet

     9.0 %     6.7 %     (0.4 )%     (8.1 )%     (0.6 )%

Number of employees (full-time equivalents)

     16,555        16,229        16,320        16,915        17,243   

 

(1) Based on audited IFRS, converted to US GAAP.
(2) Net cash/(debt) and ROCE are non-GAAP measures, see “GAAP and non-GAAP Measures” below.

GAAP AND NON-GAAP MEASURES

The discussion and analysis of Signet’s results of operations, financial condition and liquidity contained in this Report are based upon the consolidated financial statements of Signet which are prepared in accordance with US GAAP and should be read in conjunction with Signet’s financial statements and the related notes included in Item 8. A number of non-GAAP measures are used by management to analyze and manage the performance of the business, and the required disclosures for these non-GAAP measures are given below. In particular, the terms “underlying” and “underlying at constant exchange rates” are used in a number of places. “Underlying” is used to indicate where adjustments for significant, unusual and non-recurring items have been made and “underlying at constant exchange rates” indicates where the underlying items have been further adjusted to eliminate the impact of exchange rate movements on translation of pound sterling amounts to US dollars.

 

45


Table of Contents

Signet provides such non-GAAP information in reporting its financial results to give investors with additional data to evaluate its operations. Management does not, nor does it suggest investors should, consider such non-GAAP measures in isolation from, or in substitute for, financial information prepared in accordance with GAAP.

1. Income statement at constant exchange rates

Movements in the US dollar to pound sterling exchange rate have an impact on Signet’s results. The UK division is managed in pounds sterling as sales and costs are incurred in that currency and its results are then translated into US dollars for external reporting purposes. Management believes it assists in understanding the performance of Signet and its UK division if constant currency figures are given. This is particularly so in periods when exchange rates are volatile. The constant currency amounts are calculated by retranslating the prior year figures using the current year’s exchange rate. Management considers it useful to exclude the impact of movements in the pound sterling to US dollar exchange rate to analyze and explain changes and trends in Signet’s sales and costs.

(a) Fiscal 2012 percentage change in results at constant exchange rates

 

     Fiscal
2012
    Fiscal
2011
    Change     Impact of
exchange
rate
movement
    Fiscal 2011
at constant
exchange
rates
(non-GAAP)
    Fiscal 2012
change
at constant
exchange
rates
(non-GAAP)
 
     $million     $million     %     $million     $million     %  

Sales by origin and destination:

            

US

     3,034.1        2,744.2        10.6        —          2,744.2        10.6   

UK

     715.1        693.2        3.2        22.4        715.6        (0.1
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 
     3,749.2        3,437.4        9.1        22.4        3,459.8        8.4   

Cost of sales

     (2,311.6 )     (2,194.5 )     (5.3 )     (15.2 )     (2,209.7 )     4.6  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Gross margin

     1,437.6        1,242.9        15.7        7.2        1,250.1        15.0   

Selling, general and administrative expenses

     (1,056.7 )     (980.4 )     7.8        (6.2 )     (986.6 )     7.1   

Other operating income, net

     126.5        110.0        15.0        —          110.0        15.0   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Operating income, net:

            

US

     478.0        342.7        39.5        —          342.7        39.5   

UK

     56.1        57.0        (1.6     1.9        58.9        (4.8

Unallocated

     (26.7     (27.2     1.8        (0.9     (28.1     5.0   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 
     507.4        372.5        36.2        1.0        373.5        35.9   

Interest expense, net

     (5.3 )     (72.1 )     92.6        —          (72.1 )     92.6   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Income before income taxes

     502.1        300.4        67.1        1.0        301.4        66.6   

Income taxes

     (177.7 )     (100.0 )     77.7        (0.3 )     (100.3 )     77.2   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net income

     324.4        200.4        61.9        0.7        201.1        61.3   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Basic earnings per share

   $ 3.76      $ 2.34        60.7      $ 0.01      $ 2.35        60.0   

Diluted earnings per share

   $ 3.73      $ 2.32        60.8      $ 0.01      $ 2.33        60.1   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

46


Table of Contents

(b) Fourth quarter Fiscal 2012 percentage change in results at constant exchange rates

 

     13 weeks ended
January 28,

2012
    13 weeks ended
January 29,

2011
    Change      Impact of
exchange
rate
movement
    13 weeks
ended
January 29,
2011
at constant
exchange
rates
(non-GAAP)
    13 weeks
ended

January 28,
2012
change
at constant
exchange rates
(non-GAAP)
 
     $million     $million     %      $million     $million     %  

Sales by origin and destination:

             

US

     1,090.1        1,007.0        8.3         —          1,007.0        8.3   

UK

     263.7        263.5        0.1         (2.9     260.6        1.2   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 
     1,353.8        1,270.5        6.6         (2.9 )     1,267.6        6.8   

Cost of sales

     (790.6 )     (752.0 )     5.1         3.3        (748.7 )     5.6   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Gross margin

     563.2        518.5        8.6         0.4        518.9        8.5   

Selling, general and administrative expenses

     (348.8 )     (336.7 )     3.6         1.4        (335.3 )     4.0   

Other operating income, net

     29.5        28.7        2.8         —          28.7        2.8   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Operating income, net

             

US

     191.0        167.9        13.8         —          167.9        13.8   

UK

     58.5        55.3        5.8         1.8        57.1        2.5   

Unallocated

     (5.6     (12.7     55.9         —          (12.7     55.9   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 
     243.9        210.5        15.9         1.8        212.3        14.9   

Interest expense, net

     (1.5 )     (50.9 )     97.1         —          (50.9 )     97.1   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Income before income taxes

     242.4        159.6        51.9         1.8        161.4        50.2   

Income taxes

     (85.8 )     (54.2 )     58.3         (0.6 )     (54.8 )     56.6   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net income

     156.6        105.4        48.6         1.2        106.6        46.9   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Basic earnings per share

   $ 1.81      $ 1.23        47.2       $ 0.02      $ 1.25        44.8   

Diluted earnings per share

   $ 1.79      $ 1.21        47.9       $ 0.03      $ 1.24        44.4   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

47


Table of Contents

(c) Fiscal 2011 percentage change in results at constant exchange rates

 

     Fiscal
2011
    Fiscal
2010
    Change     Impact of
exchange
rate
movement
    Fiscal 2010
at constant
exchange
rates
(non-GAAP)
    Fiscal 2011
change
at constant
exchange
rates
(non-GAAP)
 
     $million     $million     %     $million     $million     %  

Sales by origin and destination:

            

US

     2,744.2        2,540.4        8.0        —          2,540.4        8.0   

UK

     693.2        733.2        (5.5     (18.5     714.7        (3.0
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 
     3,437.4        3,273.6        5.0        (18.5 )     3,255.1        5.6   

Cost of sales

     (2,194.5     (2,208.0 )     (0.6     12.6        (2,195.4 )     —     
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Gross margin

     1,242.9        1,065.6        16.6        (5.9 )     1,059.7        17.3   

Selling, general and administrative expenses

     (980.4 )     (916.5 )     7.0        4.9        (911.6 )     7.5   

Other operating income, net

     110.0        115.4        (4.7     —          115.4        (4.7 )
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Operating income, net

            

US

     342.7        224.5        52.7        —          224.5        52.7   

UK

     57.0        56.5        0.9        (1.4     55.1        3.4   

Unallocated

     (27.2     (16.5     64.8        0.4        (16.1     68.9   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 
     372.5        264.5        40.8        (1.0 )     263.5        41.4   

Interest expense, net

     (72.1 )     (34.0 )     112.1        —          (34.0 )     112.1   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Income before income taxes

     300.4        230.5        30.3        (1.0 )     229.5        30.9   

Income taxes

     (100.0 )     (73.4 )     36.2        0.3        (73.1 )     36.8   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net income

     200.4        157.1        27.6        (0.7 )     156.4        28.1   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Basic earnings per share

   $ 2.34      $ 1.84        27.2      $ (0.01 )   $ 1.83        27.9   

Diluted earnings per share

   $ 2.32      $ 1.83        26.8      $ (0.01 )   $ 1.82        27.5   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

48


Table of Contents

(d) Fourth quarter Fiscal 2011 percentage change in results at constant exchange rates

 

     13 weeks ended
January 29,

2011
    13 weeks ended
January 30,

2010
    Change     Impact of
exchange
rate
movement
    13 weeks
ended
January 30,
2010
at constant
exchange
rates
(non-GAAP)
    13 weeks
ended

January 29,
2011
change
at constant
exchange rates
(non-GAAP)
 
     $million     $million     %     $million     $million     %  

Sales by origin and destination:

            

US

     1,007.0        914.0        10.2        —          914.0        10.2   

UK

     263.5        282.8        (6.8     (7.0     275.8        (4.5
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 
     1,270.5        1,196.8        6.2        (7.0 )     1,189.8        6.8   

Cost of sales

     (752.0 )     (765.4 )     (1.8 )     4.2        (761.2 )     (1.2
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Gross margin

     518.5        431.4        20.2        (2.8 )     428.6        21.0   

Selling, general and administrative expenses

     (336.7 )     (282.6 )     19.1        1.5        (281.1 )     19.8   

Other operating income, net

     28.7        28.4        1.1        —          28.4        1.1   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Operating income, net

            

US

     167.9        121.5        38.2        —          121.5        38.2   

UK

     55.3        60.4        (8.4     (1.4     59.0        (6.3

Unallocated

     (12.7     (4.7     170.2        0.1        (4.6     176.1   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 
     210.5        177.2        18.8        (1.3 )     175.9        19.7   

Interest expense, net

     (50.9 )     (7.5 )     nm        —          (7.5 )     nm   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Income before income taxes

     159.6        169.7        (6.0 )     (1.3 )     168.4        (5.2

Income taxes

     (54.2 )     (54.2 )     —          0.4        (53.8 )     0.7   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net income

     105.4        115.5        (8.7 )     (0.9 )     114.6        (8.0
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Basic earnings per share

   $ 1.23      $ 1.35        (8.9 )   $ (0.01 )   $ 1.34        (8.2

Diluted earnings per share

   $ 1.21      $ 1.34        (9.7 )   $ (0.01 )   $ 1.33        (9.0
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

nm – not meaningful

2. Underlying income before income tax, underlying net income and underlying earnings per share

In Fiscal 2011, Signet made a make whole payment of $47.5 million as a result of the prepayment in full of private placement notes (“Private Placement Notes”) outstanding (the “Make Whole Payment”). Management considers it useful to exclude this significant, unusual and non-recurring item to analyze and explain changes and trends in Signet’s results.

(a) Fiscal 2011 reconciliation to underlying results

 

     Fiscal
2011
    Impact of
Make  Whole

Payment
    Fiscal 2011
underlying
(non-GAAP)
 
     $million     $million     $million  

Operating income

     372.5        —          372.5   

Interest expense, net

     (72.1 )     47.5        (24.6 )
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Income before income taxes:

     300.4        47.5        347.9   

Income taxes

     (100.0 )     (18.0 )     (118.0 )
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net income

     200.4        29.5        229.9   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Basic earnings per share:

   $ 2.34      $ 0.34      $ 2.68   

Diluted earnings per share:

   $ 2.32      $ 0.34      $ 2.66   

 

49


Table of Contents

3. Net cash/(debt)

Net cash/(debt) is the total of cash and cash equivalents less loans, overdrafts and long-term debt, and is helpful in providing a measure of the total indebtedness of the business.

 

     January 28,
2012
     January 29,
2011
    January 30,
2010
 
     $million      $million     $million  

Cash and cash equivalents

     486.8         302.1        316.2   

Long-term debt

     —           —          (280.0 )

Loans and overdrafts

     —           (31.0 )     (44.1 )
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

 
     —           (31.0 )     (324.1 )
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net cash/(debt)

     486.8         271.1        (7.9 )
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

 

4. Return on capital employed excluding goodwill (“ROCE”)

ROCE is calculated by dividing the annual operating income by the average quarterly capital employed and is expressed as a percentage. Capital employed includes intangible assets excluding goodwill, property and equipment, other non-current receivables, inventories, accounts and other receivables, other assets, accounts payable, accrued expenses and other liabilities, deferred revenue and retirement benefit asset/obligation. This is a key performance indicator used by management for assessing the effective operation of the business and is considered a useful disclosure for investors as it provides a measure of the return on Signet’s and the divisions’ operating assets.

5. Free cash flow

Free cash flow is a non-GAAP measure defined as the net cash provided by operating activities less net cash flows used in investing activities. It has been calculated both before and after the Make Whole Payment. Management considers that this is helpful in understanding how the business is generating cash from its operating and investing activities that can be used to meet the financing needs of the business. Free cash flow does not represent the residual cash flow available for discretionary expenditure.

 

     Fiscal
2012
    Fiscal
2011
    Fiscal
2010
 
     $million     $million     $million  

Net cash provided by operating activities

     325.2        323.1        515.3   

Net cash used in investing activities

     (97.8 )     (55.6 )     (43.5 )
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Free cash flow, including Make Whole Payment

     227.4        267.5        471.8   

Make Whole Payment

     —          47.5        —     
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Free cash flow, excluding Make Whole Payment

     227.4        315.0        471.8   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

50


Table of Contents
ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains statements which are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements, based upon management’s beliefs and expectations as well as on assumptions made by and data currently available to management, appear in a number of places throughout this Annual Report on Form 10-K and include statements regarding, among other things, Signet’s results of operation, financial condition, liquidity, prospects, growth, strategies and the industry in which Signet operates. The use of the words “expects,” “intends,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “believes,” “should,” “potential,” “may,” “forecast,” “objective,” “plan,” or “target,” and other similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to general economic conditions, the merchandising, pricing and inventory policies followed by Signet, the reputation of Signet and its brands, the level of competition in the jewelry sector, the cost and availability of diamonds, gold and other precious metals, regulations relating to consumer credit, seasonality of Signet’s business, financial market risks, deterioration in consumers’ financial condition, exchange rate fluctuations, changes in consumer attitudes regarding jewelry, management of social, ethical and environmental risks, security breaches and other disruptions to Signet’s information technology infrastructure and databases, inadequacy in and disruptions to internal controls and systems, changes in assumptions used in making accounting estimates relating to items such as extended service plans and pensions, and risks relating to Signet being a Bermuda corporation.

For a discussion of these risks and other risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in any forward looking statement, see Item 1A and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Signet undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances, except as required by law.

GAAP AND NON-GAAP MEASURES

The following discussion and analysis of the results of operations, financial condition and liquidity is based upon the consolidated financial statements of Signet which are prepared in accordance with US GAAP. The following information should be read in conjunction with Signet’s financial statements and the related notes included in Item 8.

A number of non-GAAP measures are used by management to analyze and manage the performance of the business, and the required disclosures for these measures are given in Item 6. Signet provides such non-GAAP information in reporting its financial results to give investors additional data to evaluate its operations. The Company’s management does not, nor does it suggest investors should, consider such non-GAAP measures in isolation from, or in substitute for, financial information prepared in accordance with GAAP.

Exchange translation impact

The average exchange rate is used to prepare the income statement and is calculated from the weekly average exchange rates weighted by sales of the UK division. This means that results are particularly impacted by movements in the fourth quarter of its fiscal year, with the exchange rate in the first four weeks of December having the largest effect on the average exchange rate used. A movement in the year to date exchange rate from that in the prior quarter in a particular fiscal year, will result in that quarter’s results being impacted by adjustments to sales and costs in prior quarters to reflect the changed year to date exchange rate. This can have a particularly noticeable impact on Signet’s results for the third quarter as the results for the third quarter are close to break-even. In addition, as the UK division’s selling, administrative and general expenses are spread more evenly between quarters than its sales, these expenses can be particularly impacted in the fourth quarter. In Fiscal 2013, it is anticipated a one cent movement in the pound sterling to US dollar exchange rate would impact income before income tax by approximately $0.3 million.

 

51


Table of Contents

Fiscal 2012 overview

The strong results for Fiscal 2012 were led by a same store sales increase of 9.0% (Fiscal 2011: increase of 6.7%); total sales were up by 9.1% to $3,749.2 million (Fiscal 2011: $3,437.4 million) and operating margin improved by 270 basis points to 13.5% (Fiscal 2011: 10.8%). As a result, income before income taxes and diluted earnings per share increased to $502.1 million (Fiscal 2011: $300.4 million) and $3.73 per share (Fiscal 2011: $2.32), up by 67.1% and 60.8% respectively. Excluding the Make Whole Payment in Fiscal 2011, income before income taxes and diluted earnings per share increased by $154.2 million and $1.07 per share, up by 44.3% and 40.2% respectively, non-GAAP measures, see Item 6.

Free cash flow at $227.4 million; non-GAAP measure, see Item 6 (Fiscal 2011: $315.0 million excluding the Make Whole Payment), was higher than the original objective for the year of $150 million to $200 million. At January 28, 2012, Signet had no long-term debt (January 29, 2011: $0 million), and cash and cash equivalents of $486.8 million (January 29, 2011: $302.1 million).

Drivers of operating profitability

The key drivers of operating profitability are:

 

   

sales performance;

 

   

gross margin;

 

   

level of selling, general and administrative expenses;

 

   

balance between the change in same store sales and sales from new store space; and

 

   

movements in the US dollar to pound sterling exchange rate, as about 20% of Signet’s sales and about 8% of operating income, including unallocated costs, were generated in the UK in Fiscal 2012 and Signet reports its results in US dollars.

These and other drivers are discussed more fully below.

Sales

Sales performance in both the US and UK divisions is driven by the change in same store sales and net store space. Same store sales growth is calculated by comparison of sales in stores that were open in both the current and the prior fiscal year. Sales from stores that have been open for less than 12 months are excluded from the comparison until their 12-month anniversary. Sales from the 12-month anniversary onwards are compared against the equivalent prior period sales within the comparable store sales comparison. Stores closed in the current financial period are included up to the date of closure and the comparative period is correspondingly adjusted. Stores that have been relocated or expanded, but remain within the same local geographic market, are included within the comparison with no adjustment to either the current or comparative period. Stores that have been refurbished are also included within the comparison except for the period when the refurbishment was taking place, when those stores are excluded from the comparison both for the current year and for the comparative period. Sales to employees are also excluded. Comparisons at divisional level are made in local currency and consolidated comparisons are made at constant exchange rates and exclude the effect of exchange rate movements by recalculating the prior period results as if they had been generated at the weighted average exchange rate for the current period. eCommerce sales are included in the calculation of sales for the period and the comparative figures from the anniversary of the launch of the relevant website. Management considers same store sales useful as it is a major benchmark used by investors to judge performance within the retail industry.

Same store sales are a function of the number of units sold and the average selling price of those units. The average selling price can vary due to changes in the buying patterns of customers, the introduction of new merchandise, the relative growth rates of different store formats, or price changes. The charm bracelet category

 

52


Table of Contents

which drives multiple unit purchases and increased frequency of purchases, as compared to diamonds, grew rapidly in Fiscal 2011 and Fiscal 2012. The significant growth of this category has increased sales, as unit volumes increased and average selling price per unit declined. Signet seeks to provide customers with a broad range of prices and merchandise choices to ensure customers can purchase compelling products at a variety of price levels and adjusts the product mix for evolving product trends based upon evaluation of customer demand and customer testing.

A new US store typically has sales ranging from 70% to 75% of a five year old store, and will only contribute to sales for part of the fiscal year in which it is opened. Store openings are usually planned to occur in the third quarter, and store closures in January, although this does not always occur. When investing in new space, management has stringent operating and financial criteria. US net space increased 1% in Fiscal 2012 and decreased by 2% in Fiscal 2011. This is in contrast to net space growth in the US of 4% in Fiscal 2009 and 10% in Fiscal 2008. The majority of the historic space growth reflected expansion of the Jared format. In the UK, there has typically been a small decline in space as the H.Samuel chain has withdrawn from smaller sized retail markets due to growth in regional malls. There are currently limited new space opportunities for either H.Samuel or Ernest Jones to offset these closures. UK space remained unchanged in Fiscal 2012 and decreased by 2% in Fiscal 2011.

Net change in store selling space

 

     US     UK     Signet  

Fiscal 2012

      

Openings

     23        3        26   

Closures

     (22 )     (8 )     (30 )

Net change

     1 %     0 %     1 %

Fiscal 2011

      

Openings

     6        —          6   

Closures

     (50 )     (12 )     (62 )

Net change

     (2 )%     (2 )%     (2 )%

Fiscal 2010

      

Openings

     16        1        17   

Closures

     (56 )     (7 )     (63 )

Net change

     (1 )%     (1 )%     (1 )%

Cost of sales and gross margin

Cost of sales, includes merchandise costs net of discounts and allowances, freight, processing and distribution costs of moving merchandise from suppliers to the distribution center and to stores, inventory shrinkage, store operating and occupancy costs, net bad debts and charges for late payments under the US customer finance program. Store operating and occupancy costs include utilities, rent, real estate taxes, common area maintenance charges and depreciation. As the classification of cost of sales or selling, general and administrative expenses varies from retailer to retailer and few retailers have in-house customer finance programs, Signet’s gross margin percentage may not be directly comparable to other retailers.

The gross merchandise margin is the difference between the selling price achieved and the cost of merchandise sold expressed as a percentage of the sales price. Gross merchandise margin dollars is the difference expressed in monetary terms. The trend in gross merchandise margin depends on Signet’s pricing policy, movements in the cost of merchandise sold, changes in sales mix and the direct cost of providing services such as repairs.

Important factors that impact gross margin are the cost of polished diamonds and gold. In the US division, about 55% of the cost of merchandise sold is accounted for by polished diamonds and about 15% is accounted for by gold. In the UK division, diamonds and gold account for about 5% to 10% and about 15% to 20%, respectively, of the cost of

 

53


Table of Contents

merchandise sold, and watches for about 40%. The pound sterling to US dollar exchange rate also has a material impact as a significant proportion of the merchandise sold in the UK is purchased in US dollars. Signet uses gold and currency hedges to reduce its exposure to market volatility in the cost of gold and the pound sterling to dollar exchange rate, but is not able to do so for polished diamonds. For gold and currencies, the hedging period can extend to 24 months, although the majority of hedge contracts will normally be for a maximum of 12 months.

The price of diamonds varies depending on their size, cut, color and clarity. The price of diamonds of the size and quality typically purchased by Signet showed little variation over Fiscal years 2008 and 2009. Due to the sharp decline in demand for diamonds in the second half of Fiscal 2009, particularly in the US which accounts for about 40% of worldwide diamond demand (source: IDEX Online (“IDEX”)), the supply chain became overstocked with diamonds. Combined with the reduced levels of credit availability, the oversupply of diamonds resulted in a fall in the price of loose polished diamonds of all sizes and qualities for most of Fiscal 2010. The IDEX Global Diamond Price Index is an independent source that tracks diamond prices in the IDEX inventory database. While IDEX tracks price movements in its database, they are not representative of all transactions in polished diamonds and do not necessarily reflect prices paid by Signet. IDEX reports show that the price of diamonds over three carats, which is larger than Signet usually purchases, are more volatile than for sizes and qualities that are typically used in merchandise sold by Signet. During Fiscal 2011, polished diamond prices increased, but remained below Fiscal 2009 levels. In mid Fiscal 2012, the IDEX Global Diamond Price Index exceeded its prior peak levels, and while falling back in the second half of Fiscal 2012, remained above Fiscal 2011 levels. Demand for diamonds is primarily driven by the manufacture and sale of diamond jewelry and their future price is uncertain.

The cost of gold, while volatile, has steadily increased during the last four fiscal years, primarily reflecting increased investment demand rather than changes in the usage for jewelry manufacture. During Fiscal 2012, the cost of gold increased from an average of $1,371 per troy ounce in January 2011 to $1,739 per troy ounce in January 2012. The future price of gold is uncertain.

Signet uses an average cost inventory methodology and, as jewelry inventory turns slowly, the impact of movements in the cost of diamonds and gold takes some time to be fully reflected in the gross margin. As inventory turn is faster in the fourth quarter than in the other three quarters, changes in the cost of merchandise are more quickly reflected in the gross margin in that quarter. Furthermore, Signet’s hedging activities result in movements in the purchase cost of merchandise taking some time before being reflected in the gross margin. An increase in inventory turn would accelerate the rate at which commodity costs impact gross margin.

Customer receivables comprise a large volume of transactions with no one customer representing a significant balance. The net US bad debt expense includes an estimate of the allowance for losses as of the balance sheet date. The allowance is calculated using a proprietary model that analyzes factors such as delinquency rates and recovery rates. A 100% allowance is made for any amount that is more than 90 days aged on a recency basis, as well as an allowance for those 90 days aged and under based on historical loss information and performance and payment performance. Management believes that the primary drivers of the net US bad debt to total US sales ratio are the accuracy of the proprietary consumer credit scores used when granting customer finance, the procedures used to collect the outstanding balances, US credit sales as a percentage of total US sales and the rate of change in the level of unemployment in the US economy.

Selling, general and administrative expenses

Selling, general and administrative expenses include store staff and store administrative costs, centralized administrative expenses, including information technology, credit and eCommerce, advertising and promotional costs and other operating expenses not specifically categorized elsewhere in the consolidated income statements.

The primary drivers of staffing costs are the number of full time equivalent employees employed and the level of compensation, taxes and other benefits paid. Management varies, on a store by store basis, the hours worked

 

54


Table of Contents

based on the expected level of selling activity, subject to minimum staffing levels required to operate the store. Non-store staffing levels are less variable. A significant element of compensation is performance based, and is primarily dependent on sales or operating profit.

The level of advertising expenditure can vary. The largest element of advertising expenditure is national television advertising and is determined by management’s judgment of the appropriate level of advertising impressions and the cost of purchasing media.

Other operating income

Other operating income is predominantly interest income arising from in-house customer finance provided to Signet’s customers by the US division. Its level is dependent on the rate of interest charged and the level of outstanding balances. The level of outstanding balances is dependent on the sales of the US division, the proportion of sales that use the in-house customer finance and the monthly collection rate.

Operating income

To maintain operating income, Signet needs to achieve same store sales growth sufficient to offset any adverse movement in gross margin (including the net bad debt expense), any increase in operating costs, the impact of any immature selling space and any adverse changes in other operating income. Same store sales growth above the level required to offset the factors outlined above allows the business to achieve leverage of its cost base and improve operating income. Slower sales growth or a sales decline would normally result in reduced operating income. When foreseen, such as through the US division’s cost saving measures implemented in Fiscal 2010, Signet may be able to reduce costs to help offset the impact of slow or negative sales growth. A key factor in driving operating income is the level of average sales per store, with higher productivity allowing leverage of expenses incurred in performing store and central functions. Therefore a slower rate of net new space growth is beneficial to operating income, while an acceleration in growth is adverse.

The impact on operating income of a sharp, unexpected increase or decrease in same store sales performance can be significant. This is particularly so when it occurs in the fourth quarter due to the seasonality of the business. In the medium term, there is more opportunity to adjust costs to the changed sales level, but the time it takes varies depending on the type of cost. An example of where it can take a number of months to adjust costs is expenditure on national network television advertising in the US, where Signet makes most of its commitments for the year ahead during its second quarter. It is even more difficult to reduce base lease costs in the short or medium term, as leases in US malls are typically for ten years, Jared sites for 20 years and in the UK for five plus years.

Operating income may also be impacted by significant, unusual and non-recurring items. For example, in Fiscal 2011, the impact of amendments to the Truth in Lending Act had an estimated net direct adverse impact on operating income of $11.9 million, primarily by reducing other operating income. In Fiscal 2010, the vacation entitlement policy in the US division was changed, which resulted in the selling, general and administrative costs being reduced, while operating income increased by $13.4 million. Other line items may also be impacted by significant, unusual and non-recurring items. For example, in Fiscal 2011, Signet made a Make Whole Payment of $47.5 million, reflected as an increase to interest expense as a result of the prepayment in full of Private Placement Notes in November 2010.

 

55


Table of Contents

Results of Operations

 

     Fiscal
2012
    Fiscal
2011
    Fiscal
2010
 
     $million     $million     $million  

Sales

     3,749.2        3,437.4        3,273.6   

Cost of sales

     (2,311.6 )     (2,194.5 )     (2,208.0 )
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Gross margin

     1,437.6        1,242.9        1,065.6   

Selling, general and administrative expenses

     (1,056.7 )     (980.4 )     (916.5 )

Other operating income, net

     126.5        110.0        115.4   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Operating income, net

     507.4        372.5        264.5   

Net interest expense

     (5.3 )