Akron-based Signet Jewelers to close 380 stores due to drop in sales from coronavirus crisis

Akron-based Signet Jewelers to close 380 stores due to drop in sales from coronavirus crisis
Zales (Source: Signet Jewelers)

ARKON, Ohio (WOIO) - Signet Jewelers Limited has become the latest retail victim of the pandemic.

The Akron-based company behind some of the best-known jewelry chains like Kay Jewelers, Zales, and Jared plans to permanently close about 380 stores, blaming the coronavirus crisis for a major drop in business.

Other name brands Signet Jewelers operates within its approximately 3,200 stores also include are Ernest Jones, H. Samuel, James Allen, Peoples, and Piercing Pagoda.

Signet Jewelers announced on Tuesday that it will not reopen at least 150 North America stores and 80 UK stores.

The company plans to then close the additional 150 stores by the end of the fiscal year.

Signet Jewelers said the company began implementing strategic responses to ensure the safety of its employees and customers back in March in response to the pandemic while solidifying its liquidity in the process.

The company then temporarily closed all stores in late March, temporarily furloughing the majority of store and support center employees while temporarily reducing cash compensation of senior executives, according to Signet Jewelers.

According to Signet Jewelers, the company finally drew down $900 million under its senior secured asset-based revolving credit facility.

Then in May, Signet said the company began a staggered store reopening plan based on health and safety standards and regional customer demand.

There are over 1,100 stores currently open, and Signet Jewelers said “performance of reopened stores has been encouraging with sequential week over week sales performance improvements in open stores.”

Signet Jewelers said the company expects business to gradually return, but with safety being prioritized with store reopenings.

“Landlord discussions, including rent deferrals and abatements, as well as store-level analysis remain ongoing as the Company assesses the future shape of Signet. Importantly, while we continue to optimize our store base, physical locations remain a core and valued aspect of the Signet customer experience,” Signet Jewelers Limited said.

“Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we have prioritized the health and safety of our team members and customers with every decision we make,” said Virginia C. Drosos, Chief Executive Officer. “Our excellent team, operating in a culture of agility and efficiency, has been integral in allowing us to rapidly adapt and respond to this environment, building on the first 2 years of our Path to Brilliance strategy and accelerating our transformation into a digital-first, omni-channel retailer. We began our fiscal year with strong Valentine’s Day sales performance, and then quickly pivoted and further adapted our eCommerce operating model to serve customers during stay-at-home restrictions with new technology, virtual consultation and selling solutions. We are gathering valuable insights on customer behaviors and plan to use these learnings to enhance our competitive advantage and emerge stronger from the crisis with optimized virtual and physical footprints to meet our customers where and how they choose to shop. We have moved forward in our digital journey while also making significant progress controlling costs, prioritizing investments to drive sustainable growth, and preserving liquidity.”

Landlord discussions, including rent deferrals and abatements, as well as store-level analysis remain ongoing as the Company assesses the future shape of Signet. Importantly, while we continue to optimize our store base, physical locations remain a core and valued aspect of the Signet customer experience

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