SIGNET JEWELERS LTD 10-K 2010
Documents found in this filing:
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
For the fiscal year ended January 30, 2010
Commission file number 1-32349
SIGNET JEWELERS LIMITED
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
2 Church Street
(441) 296 5872
(Address and telephone number including area code of principal executive offices)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Securities 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 such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes ¨ 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 Registrants 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, 2009 was $1,884,972,890.
Number of Common Shares outstanding on March 21, 2010: 85,511,574
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 30, 2010.
CHANGE OF REPORTING STATUS
Effective January 31, 2010, Signet ceased to be a foreign private issuer and became a foreign issuer subject to the rules and regulations under the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) applicable to domestic US issuers. Signet is filing this Annual Report on Form 10-K, whereas previously it filed on Form 20-F.
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.
Signets fiscal year ends on the Saturday nearest to January 31. As used herein, fiscal 2012, fiscal 2011, fiscal 2010, fiscal 2009 and fiscal 2008 refer to the 52 week periods ending January 28, 2012, January 29, 2011, January 30, 2010, January 31, 2009 and February 2, 2008 respectively. As used herein, fiscal 2007 refers to the 53 week period ending February 3, 2007, fiscal 2006 and fiscal 2005 refer to the 52 week periods ended January 28, 2006 and January 29, 2005 respectively.
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 managements beliefs and expectations as well as on assumptions made by and information currently available to management, include statements regarding, among other things, the 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, the level of competition in the jewelry sector, the price and availability of diamonds, gold and other precious metals, seasonality of the business and financial market risk.
Important factors which may cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in any forward looking statement include, but are not limited to, those described in Item 1A and elsewhere in this Form 10-K. Except as required by applicable law, rules or regulations, Signet undertakes no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K that may occur due to any change in managements expectations or to reflect future events or circumstances.
FISCAL 2010 ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Signet is the worlds largest specialty retail jeweler by sales, with stores in the US, UK, 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.
Signets US division operated 1,361 stores in 50 states at January 30, 2010. 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). The US market accounts for about 40% of worldwide diamond sales (source: IDEX Online). Based on publicly available data, management believes Signets US division was the largest specialty jeweler in the US in calendar 2009 with sales approximately 1.8 times those of the next biggest such retailer. See page 8 for a description of Signets US division.
The UK divisions 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 market accounts for less than 2% of worldwide diamond sales (source: IDEX Online/Office for National Statistics). The UK division operated 552 stores at January 30, 2010, including 14 stores in the Republic of Ireland and three in the Channel Islands. Based on publicly filed accounts, management believes Signets UK division was the largest specialty retailer of fine jewelry in the UK with sales in calendar 2008 approximately 1.7 times those of the next biggest such retailer. See page 22 for a description of Signets UK division.
Competition and sector consolidation
In the US, for calendar 2009 Signet had an approximate 4.4% share of the $58.8 billion total jewelry market (source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)). The specialty retail jewelry market was provisionally estimated to be $27.2 billion (source: US Census Bureau). During calendar 2008 and calendar 2009, the US specialty jewelry sector underwent an accelerated rate of consolidation, as weak competitors exited the market. Three of the top ten middle market brands by sales at January 1, 2008 liquidated, and a fourth has been in Chapter 11 for over a year. Management estimates that the number of US specialty jewelry outlets has declined by between 10% and 15% since January 1, 2008, and believes that financial and liquidity issues are reducing the ability of many other specialty jewelers to compete effectively.
As a result of managements strategy to focus on enhancing its competitive strengths, the US division was able to take advantage of these trends and increased its market share by 40 basis points from 9.0% of the US specialty jewelry sector in calendar 2008 to 9.4% in calendar 2009 (source: US Census Bureau). These sector trends are anticipated to continue in calendar 2010 and provide further opportunity for the US division to gain profitable market share. In addition, management believes the US division will be better prepared than many in its sector to take advantage of an upturn in consumer expenditure, whenever it occurs, due to its focus on customer needs, its operating philosophy of continuous improvement and its strong balance sheet.
In the UK, for calendar 2008, the most recent year for which data is available, Signet had an approximate 11% share of the £4.9 billion total jewelry market (source: Office for National Statistics). Data for 2009 is due for publication on March 30, 2010. While similar specialty retail jewelry data is not available for the UK market as for the US market, management believes that the economic environment has also resulted in an acceleration of the rate at which other jewelry stores are leaving the market and a weakening of many competitors.
Management aims to build long term value by focusing on the customer and providing a superior merchandise selection in high quality real estate locations. Effective advertising draws consumers into our stores, where the objective is to provide outstanding service. The operating principles that help management achieve these aims are:
Management recognizes that while the level of expenditure on jewelry is discretionary and consumers may trade down in a more challenging economic environment, the expression of romance and appreciation, for example through bridal jewelry and gift giving, remain very important human needs, as is self reward. Therefore, helping to satisfy those needs is central to driving sales. As a result, the training of staff to better understand the shoppers requirements, communicate the value of the merchandise selected and close the sale, remains a high priority. Management also aims to increase the attraction of Signets store brands to consumers through the use of differentiated merchandise (see page 15), while also offering a compelling value proposition in more basic ranges, including increased use of value items (see page 16), by utilizing its supply chain and merchandising expertise, scale and balance sheet strength. In addition, management intends to leverage national television advertising and customer relationship marketing, which it believes are the most effective and cost efficient forms of marketing available, to at least maintain its leading share of relevant marketing messages (share of voice).
STRATEGY AND OBJECTIVES
In the more buoyant economic conditions experienced between fiscal 2002 and mid fiscal 2009, managements strategy had been to:
Fiscal 2010 strategy
Reflecting the dramatic change in economic and financial market conditions in the second half of fiscal 2009, same store sales declined by 14.9% in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009 and underlying operating margin was materially reduced. As a result management reviewed and amended Signets strategy to:
In the changed economic environment, management judged that it was preferable, and a much lower risk strategy, to aim to maximize sales by gaining profitable market share in existing stores by focusing on enhancing competitive strengths rather than opening additional locations.
Fiscal 2010 financial objectives
For fiscal 2010, this strategy resulted in the following financial objectives being set:
The US division slightly exceeded the cost savings target of $100 million (excluding inflation, net bad debt and volume related costs on sales above plan). Signet achieved a $221.5 million reduction in working capital primarily through reducing inventory by $226.5 million. Capital expenditure was $43.6 million, $11 million below the target level. The positive free cash flow; non-GAAP measure, see Item 6, in fiscal 2010 was $471.9 million, more than twice the objective, reflecting the reduction in working capital and a better than expected trading performance.
Fiscal 2011 strategy
While the results for fiscal 2010 exceeded the financial objectives for that year, and the US and UK economies showed some initial signs of stabilization in late fiscal 2010, activity remains below former levels and the outlook continues to be uncertain, particularly in the UK. The strategy in fiscal 2011 is therefore broadly similar to that of fiscal 2010. However, it is not anticipated that a further realignment of costs and working capital will be implemented given the stable sales performance in fiscal 2010.
Consistent with Signets strategy, management remains focused on improving store productivity, primarily by gaining profitable market share. Both the US and UK divisions entered the downturn as industry leaders and continue to endeavor to better meet customer requirements by further enhancing their competitive advantages.
This is expected to increase the performance gap between Signet and others in the sector in the basic retail disciplines of store operations, supply chain management and merchandising, marketing and quality of real estate. Over the last decade, the US divisions share of the US specialty jewelry market has increased from 5.2% to 9.4%; the aim is to achieve a further profitable increase in 2010. Significant store capacity exited the US specialty jewelry marketplace in calendar 2009 and management believes that many of the remaining firms are less able to compete due to financial pressures.
As always, profit and cash flow maximization remain a priority. Therefore management will continue to keep a tight control of gross merchandise margin, costs and inventory.
The strategy also encompasses maintaining a strong balance sheet and financial flexibility. These are significant advantages within the specialty jewelry sector when negotiating with landlords and suppliers. The business is able to invest in new merchandise ranges to drive sales and in information technology to improve productivity. In addition, a strong balance sheet enables the US division to provide credit to customers that meet consistent authorization standards at a time when other sources of consumer finance are contracting and many specialty jewelry competitors are finding third party provision of credit to be increasingly expensive.
Fiscal 2011 financial objectives
In fiscal 2011, managements financial objectives for the business are the following:
MEDIUM TERM OUTLOOK
Management believes that Signets two operating divisions have the opportunity to take advantage of their enhanced competitive positions to gain profitable market share and, as any improvements to the economy take place, grow sales and increase store productivity. In addition, as the economy stabilizes there is the potential for the ratio of the net bad debt charge on customer receivables to sales within the US division to return to nearer historic, lower levels. The increasing consolidation of the jewelry supply chain may allow the business to strengthen relationships with suppliers, facilitating the possibility of developing differentiated merchandise, and potentially improving the efficiency of its supply chain. Management also believe that Signets strong balance sheet and superior operating metrics should allow its operating divisions to take advantage of investment opportunities that meet managements return criteria, particularly space growth in the US, more quickly than competitors. Furthermore, Signet is in a position to take advantage of strategic opportunities that meet managements demanding investment returns, should they arise.
Signets 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 78% of sales) and the UK division (approximately 22% of sales). Both divisions are managed by executive committees, which report through divisional Chief Executives to Signets Chief Executive 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.
History and development
Signet Group plc was incorporated in England and Wales on January 27, 1950 under the name Ratners (Jewellers) Limited. The name of the company was changed on December 10, 1981 to Ratners (Jewellers) Public Limited Company, on February 9, 1987 to Ratners Group plc, and on September 10, 1993 to Signet Group plc. 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.
Signet expanded rapidly by acquisition during the period 1984 to 1990. It first entered the US market in 1987 by acquiring Sterling Inc., a company based in Akron, Ohio. Kay Jewelers, Inc. was acquired in 1990. Since 1990 the only corporate acquisition made by Signet was that of Marks & Morgan Jewelers Inc. in 2000.
Signet listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in 1968. In 1988, American Depositary Shares (ADSs) of Signet began trading on NASDAQ and in November 2004 the listing for the ADSs was moved to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). On September 11, 2008, as part of the scheme of arrangement discussed above, each Signet Group plc share was consolidated on a 1-for-20 basis, and each ADS on a 1-for-2 basis. On the same date Signet Jewelers Limiteds shares were listed on the NYSE and a secondary listing was obtained on the Official List of the United Kingdom Listing Authority (from April 2010, following implementation of the FSAs review of the UK listing regime, all secondary listings, including the Companys, will be relabeled as standard listings).
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 following in Signets US operations: Kay Jewelers; Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry; JB Robinson Jewelers; Marks & Morgan Jewelers; Belden Jewelers; Weisfield Jewelers; Osterman Jewelers; Shaws Jewelers; Rogers Jewelers; LeRoys Jewelers; Goodman Jewelers; Friedlanders Jewelers; Every kiss begins with Kay; Peerless Diamond; Hearts Desire; Perfect Partner; Open Hearts by Jane Seymour; and Loves Embrace. Trademarks and trade names include the following in Signets UK operations: H.Samuel; Ernest Jones; Leslie Davis; Forever Diamond; and Perfect Partner.
The value of Signets trademarks and trade names are material but are not reflected on its balance sheet. Their value is maintained and increased by Signets expenditure on staff training, marketing and store investment.
Signets 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. Due to sales leverage, Signets operating income is even more seasonal, with nearly all of the UK divisions, and a little over 50% of the US divisions operating income normally occurring in the fourth quarter. Selling, general and administrative costs occur broadly evenly during the year, while net financing expenses are usually higher in the second half of the year reflecting the normal peak in working capital requirements just ahead of the key holiday trading period.
In fiscal 2010 the average number of full-time equivalent persons employed was 16,320 (US: 12,596; UK: 3,724). Signet usually employs a limited number of temporary employees during its fourth quarter. None of Signets employees in the UK and less than 1% of Signets employees in the US are covered by collective bargaining agreements. Signet considers its relationship with its employees to be excellent.
Further information on Signets employees can be found elsewhere in this Report.
Total US jewelry sales, including watches and fashion jewelry, are provisionally estimated by the BEA to have been $58.8 billion in calendar 2009. The BEA figures are subject to frequent and sometimes large revisions. During July 2009, the BEA made significant downward revisions to its sales database back to 1993.
The US jewelry market has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 4.5% over the last 25 years. While Signets 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.
In calendar 2009, the US jewelry market contracted by a provisional estimated 1.9% (source: BEA), reflecting the continuing challenging economic environment. Based on provisional estimates, the specialty jewelry sector fell by 3.9% to $27.2 billion in calendar 2009 (source: US Census Bureau). As with the BEA figures, during 2009 downward revisions were made to the US Census Bureau figures for the preceding four years. The specialty sector saw a provisional decline in market share to 46.2% in calendar 2009 from 47.1% in calendar 2008.
The US divisions share of the specialty jewelry market increased to 9.4% in calendar 2009 from 9.0% in calendar 2008, based on initial estimates by the US Census Bureau. In fiscal 2010, the US divisions same store sales fell by 3.5% in the first three quarters, but increased by 7.4% in the fourth quarter. Spending by higher income consumers was weak in the first three quarters, but began to recover in the fourth quarter and this was reflected in the performance of Jared.
US Competitive Strengths
Store operations and human resources
The ability of the sales associate to explain the merchandise and its value is essential to most jewelry purchases
Offering the consumer greater value and selection
Leading brands in middle market sector
Well designed stores in primary locations with high visibility and traffic flows
Ability to facilitate customer transactions
US Brand Reviews
Location of Kay, Jared and Regional stores by state January 30, 2010
Sales data by brand
Kay operated 923 stores in 50 states at January 30, 2010 (January 31, 2009: 926 stores). Since fiscal 2005, Kay has been the largest specialty retail jewelry 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. Such households account for between 45% and 50% of US jewelry expenditure. Details of Kays performance over the last five years are given below:
Kay sales were $1,508.2 million during fiscal 2010 (fiscal 2009: $1,439.1 million). The increase in sales was due to a 14% rise in the number of transactions partly offset by a decrease in the average retail price of merchandise sold to $307 (fiscal 2009: $331), primarily reflecting changes in merchandise mix. Same store sales increased by 4.4% during the year, with the fourth quarter up 7.7%. During fiscal 2010, the number of Kay stores fell by three to 923. The Kay website, www.kay.com, was enhanced further and e-commerce sales increased significantly, but remain small in the context of the brand.
Kay stores typically occupy about 1,500 square feet and have around 1,250 square feet of selling space. They have historically been located in enclosed regional malls. Since 2002, new formats have been developed for 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. In addition, nearly all current retail construction projects undertaken in recent years by developers are in formats other than enclosed regional malls.
Recent net openings, current composition and planned openings in fiscal 2011 are shown below:
Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry
Jared is the leading off-mall destination specialty retail jewelry chain in its sector of the market, based on sales, with 178 stores in 35 states as at January 30, 2010 (January 31, 2009: 171). 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. Each Jared is equivalent in size to about four of the divisions mall stores and its average retail price of diamond merchandise sold, is more than double that of a Kay store. In space terms, Jared is equivalent to over 700 US division mall stores. Its main competitors are independent operators. The next two largest such chains significantly reduced their store numbers during fiscal 2010 from 23 to 20 and 20 to 10 stores respectively. Jared targets households with an income of between $50,000 and $150,000. Management believe that such households account for about 45% of US jewelry expenditure. Management believes this to be an under-served sector. An important distinction of a destination store is that the potential customer visits the store with a greater intention of making a jewelry purchase, whereas in a mall there is a possibility that the potential shopper is undecided about the product category in which they will ultimately make a purchase.
Details of Jareds performance over the last five years are given below:
Jared sales were $722.5 million during fiscal 2010 (fiscal 2009: $726.2 million). Same store sales decreased by 6.0% during the year, but increased by 9.1% in the fourth quarter. The decrease in same store sales was due to a fall in the number of transactions excluding the charm bracelet category and, primarily reflecting changes in the merchandise mix, a decrease in the average retail price of merchandise sold to $713 (fiscal 2009: $769), excluding the impact of a charm bracelet range rolled out during fiscal 2010 (see page 14). The portfolio of stores increased by seven to 178. The Jared website, www.jared.com, was enhanced having become transactional during fiscal 2009. E-commerce sales increased significantly but are only a small proportion of sales.
A key point of differentiation, compared to a typical mall store, is Jareds higher quality of customer service. As a result of its larger size, more specialist staff are available and additional in-depth selling methodologies may be used, such as the white glove presentation of timepieces.
Every Jared store has an on-site design and repair workshop where most repairs are completed within one hour. The center 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 childrens play area and complimentary refreshments.
The typical Jared store continues to have about 4,800 square feet of selling space and around 6,000 square feet of total space. Jared locations are normally free-standing sites in shopping developments with high visibility and traffic flow, and positioned close to major roads. Jared stores operate in retail centers that normally contain strong retail co-tenants, including other category killer destination stores such as Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Home Depot and Bed, Bath & Beyond, as well as some smaller specialty units.
Recent net openings, current composition and planned openings in fiscal 2011 are shown below:
US Regional Brands
Signet also operates mall stores under a variety of established regional trading names. At January 30, 2010, 260 regional brand stores operated in 36 states (January 31, 2009: 304 stores in 37 states). The leading brands include JB Robinson Jewelers, Marks & Morgan Jewelers and Belden Jewelers. Nearly all of these stores are located in malls where there is also a Kay store and target a similar customer. As the average sales per store is less than that of the Kay chain, and they do not have the leverage of national TV advertising, regional brand stores are more likely to be closed than Kay stores. Details of regional brands performance over the last five years are given below:
Regional brand sales for fiscal 2010 were $326.8 million (fiscal 2009: $370.8 million). The decrease in sales was due to store closures, a fall in the number of transactions, and a decrease in the average retail price of merchandise sold to $329 (fiscal 2009: $346), primarily reflecting changes in merchandise mix. Same store sales decreased by 4.0% during the year, but increased in the fourth quarter by 2.8%.
The location and size of regional brand stores within a mall is similar to that of a Kay store, and consideration is given to changing a regional brand store to Kay where the overall return on capital employed, including any resulting impact on other stores operated by the US division, may be increased. In fiscal 2010, two regionally branded stores were converted to the Kay format (fiscal 2009: 14). New regional chain stores are opened only if real estate satisfying the US divisions investment criteria becomes available in their respective trading areas.
Recent net closures and openings, current composition and planned closures in fiscal 2011 are shown below:
US Functional Review
While the US division operates under 12 different brands, many functions are integrated to gain economies of scale. For example, store operations have a separate dedicated field management team for the mall brands, Jared and the in-store repair function, while there is a combined diamond sourcing function.
US Customer Service and Human Resources
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 the ability to recruit, train and retain suitably qualified sales staff 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 attitude and customer satisfaction surveys. A continual priority of the US division is to improve the quality of
customer experiences in its existing stores, while providing sufficient staff that are well trained and with suitable experience to run any new stores being opened.
During fiscal 2010, focus was on increasing the efficiency of in-store execution and aligning store staff hours to sales volume, subject to minimum staffing levels. In addition, at the start of fiscal 2010 a further reduction in staffing levels at the divisional head office was implemented. Staff training, which centered on product knowledge and selling skills, remained a priority. In a difficult year, employees remained motivated, focused on maintaining excellence in execution, and were well, and appropriately, incentivized.
US Merchandising and Purchasing
Management believes that merchandise selection, availability, and value for money are critical factors to success 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 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 advantages discussed below. In addition, in recent years management has developed and continues to execute a strategy to increase the proportion of differentiated merchandise sold in response to consumer demand.
In the second half of fiscal 2009, a charm bracelet range was tested in a limited number of Jared stores. The test was successful and the range was rolled out to nearly all Jared stores in October 2009. The typical customer for this range was in the Jared demographic, but had not previously shopped at a Jared store. The typical average selling price of an item from the range was significantly below the average for Jared, but the purchase frequency was greater. As a result, the introduction of the charm bracelet range materially increased traffic and transaction volume for Jared, but greatly lowered the average selling price. Therefore items from this range have been excluded from the calculation of the average selling price for Jared. Management believes that this provides a better indication of the trend in buying patterns of the core Jared customer.
Average merchandise unit selling price ($), excluding repairs, warranty and other miscellaneous sales
The average unit selling price fell in fiscal 2010 compared to fiscal 2009. During the first nine months of fiscal 2010, the decrease was 13% (mall brands down by 7% and Jared, excluding charm bracelets was down by 9%). This reflected mix changes offset by a small benefit from price increases implemented in the first quarter of fiscal 2009. In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010, the average unit selling price decreased by 20% (mall brands down by 7% and Jared, excluding charm bracelets, down by 3%).
About 76% of the jewelry and watch sales of the US division contain one or more diamonds. Other significant merchandise categories are gold and silver jewelry (including charms) without any gemstone; other jewelry which mostly contains gemstones, such as sapphires, rubies, emeralds and pearls; and watches. In fiscal 2010, sales of silver jewelry and charms increased markedly.
Sales of jewelry can also be divided by purpose of purchase, with bridal, which includes engagement, wedding and anniversary purchases, accounting for 45% to 50% of the US divisions sales. Other reasons for buying jewelry and watches include gift giving, which is important at Christmas, Valentines Day and Mothers Day, and self reward. The bridal category is believed by management to be more stable than the other two major reasons for buying jewelry, but it is still dependent on the economic environment as customers can trade down to lower price points.
A further categorization of merchandise is generic, branded and differentiated. Generic merchandise are items and styles available from a wide range of jewelry retailers, such as solitaire rings and diamond stud earrings. It also includes styles such as diamond fashion bracelets, circle items and concepts promoted by De Beers such as Journey diamond jewelry and right hand rings. Within the generic category, the US division has exclusive designs of particular styles and also has value items, see page 16. Branded merchandise is mostly watches, but also includes ranges such as the Pandora charm bracelet which was rolled out to most Jared stores for Christmas 2009. Differentiated merchandise, are items that are branded and exclusive to the US division in its marketplace or where it is not widely available in other specialty jewelry retailers. The US divisions sales of differentiated merchandise increased significantly in fiscal 2010, see below.
In addition to selling jewelry and watches, the US division also makes other related sales such as design and repair services, and warranties. See page 18.
US division merchandise mix, excluding repairs, warranty and other miscellaneous sales
Differentiated merchandise includes:
Management believes that the US divisions scale, well trained sales staff, ability to advertise on national television, strong balance sheet and record of success, make it the preferred retail partner for jewelry manufacturers wishing to develop distinctive new jewelry merchandise. As a result, management also believes that it is offered such merchandise before other US retailers and is well positioned to negotiate restricted
distribution agreements with such manufacturers. Differentiated ranges raise the profile of the US divisions store brands, help to drive sales, have a gross merchandise margin rate a little above the US division as a whole and improve inventory turn. Differentiated merchandise performed very well and increased as a share of sales to about 20% in fiscal 2010 (fiscal 2009: 10% to 15%). The US division further developed the Open Hearts by Jane Seymour® selection and successfully launched the Loves EmbraceTM range. There was continued success with the Leo Diamond® and merchandise from Le Vian®. Therefore it is planned to develop additional differentiated ranges and to further expand those already launched.
By planning ahead and using its expertise in the loose, polished diamond market and the jewelery manufacturing sector, the US division engineered value items that appealed to the more cost conscious consumer. These items utilize Signets ability to identify anomalies in the supply chain, together with its scale and balance sheet strength, to purchase merchandise on advantageous terms. The savings achieved, together with a lower gross merchandise margin, result in such value items offering great value to the consumer. These items are prominently displayed in printed marketing materials. In fiscal 2010, due to parts of the supply chain being under financial pressure, there were more anomalies in pricing than normal. Management took advantage of this to offer a greater range of value items in the Christmas 2009 catalog, so as to cater to an anticipated increase in the proportion of consumers that would be value-conscious. In fiscal 2010 these items performed well and helped drive achieved gross merchandise margin dollars, but did contribute to a lower gross merchandise margin rate in the fourth quarter.
Direct sourcing of polished diamonds
Management believes that the US division has a competitive cost and quality advantage because about 42% (fiscal 2009: 43%) 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. By using this approach, the cost of merchandise is reduced, enabling the US division to provide better value to the consumer, 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 Signets buyers to gain a detailed understanding of the manufacturing cost structure and improves the prospects of negotiating better prices for the supply of finished products.
The proportion of diamonds sourced loose decreased in fiscal 2010 due to the growth of differentiated ranges, where merchandise is more likely to be bought complete.
Rough diamond initiative
In fiscal 2006, Signet commenced a multi-year trial involving the purchase and contract cutting and polishing of rough diamonds to supply the US division. In the third quarter of fiscal 2009, given the prevailing economic environment, the initiative was discontinued. The remaining associated inventory was disposed of during fiscal 2010.
Sourcing of finished merchandise
Merchandise is purchased as a finished product where the complexity of the item is great, the merchandise is considered likely to have a less predictable sales pattern or where cost can be reduced. In addition, a significant proportion of differentiated merchandise is purchased in this way. 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. Management believes that the divisions 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 30, 2010, the US division held $135 million (January 31, 2009: $202 million) of merchandise on consignment (see Note 11, Item 8).
In fiscal 2010, the five largest suppliers collectively accounted for approximately 25% (fiscal 2009: 22%) of the US divisions total purchases, with the largest supplier accounting for approximately 7% (fiscal 2009: 8%). The US divisions supply chain is integrated on a worldwide basis, 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 Christmas season could result in a material adverse effect on performance. Therefore a regular dialogue is maintained with suppliers, particularly in the present economic climate.
The luxury and prestige watch manufacturers and distributors normally grant agencies to sell their ranges on a store by store basis. Signet sells its luxury watch brands primarily through Jared and management believes that the watch brands 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 have, over time, been able to increase prices to reflect changes in commodity costs. However, particularly sharp 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, hedging activities and the use of average cost accounting in the calculation of costs of goods sold by some retailers. Diamonds account for about 55% of the US divisions cost of goods sold, and in fiscal 2010, the cost of diamonds in the qualities and sizes required, declined. While diamond prices increased somewhat towards the end of the year, they remained below the level paid in fiscal 2009. The cost of gold, which accounts for about 20% of the US divisions cost of goods sold, again increased in fiscal 2010. Overall, commodity cost movements in fiscal 2010 had a limited net impact on the cost of goods sold.
In early fiscal 2011, the US division implemented selective price increases for merchandise that contains a significant proportion of gold to reflect higher commodity costs. These ranges account for less than 30% of the US divisions sales.
Signet undertakes some hedging of its requirement for gold through the use of options, forward contracts and commodity purchasing. It does not 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 by improving the efficiency of its supply chain.
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, De Beers, through its subsidiary, the
Diamond Trading Company, although its market share has been decreasing. Significant changes in the diamond supply chain in recent years have also resulted from changes in government policy in a number of African diamond producing countries. In addition, the sharp downturn in worldwide demand for diamonds, reflecting the challenging economic environment, may result in further significant changes in the supply chain.
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 consumers 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 inventory turns at least comparable to those of competitors, even though it has a significantly less mature store base and undertakes more direct sourcing of merchandise. The vast majority of inventory is held at stores rather than in the central distribution facility.
In fiscal 2010, management reduced inventory levels by about $225 million, primarily reflecting the lower level of sales experienced in fiscal 2009. This was achieved by tight control of purchases rather than discounting, as the US divisions procedures are designed to minimize clearance merchandise. A further inventory realignment is not planned in fiscal 2011. As a result of superior systems and a very experienced inventory management team, together with Signets strong balance sheet and liquidity, the US division was able to quickly respond to better than expected demand in the fourth quarter.
While design and repair 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 consumers trust, particularly in the Jared division. All Jared stores have a highly visible jewelry workshop, which is open the same hours as the store. The workshops meet the repair requirements of the store in which they are located and also carry out work for the US divisions mall brand stores. As a result, nearly all customer repairs are carried out by the US divisions own staff, unlike most other chain jewelers which do this through sub-contractors. The design and repair function has its own field management and training structure.
For about 15 years, the US division has sold a lifetime repair warranty for jewelry. The warranty covers 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. This work is carried out in-house.
US Marketing and Advertising
Management believes customers confidence in the retailer, store brand name recognition and advertising of differentiated ranges, are important factors in determining buying decisions in the specialty jewelry sector because 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. In fiscal 2010, there was increased focus on including differentiated merchandise in national television advertising. The marketing channels used include television, radio, print, catalog, direct mail, telephone marketing, point of sale signage, in-store displays and electronic methods. Marketing activities 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 before Christmas Day,
Valentines Day and Mothers Day. A significant majority of the marketing expenditure is on national television advertising which provides an opportunity to leverage its cost over time if the number of stores or sales increases.
Statistical and technology-based systems are employed to support a customer marketing program that uses a proprietary database of 26 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 trading periods. In addition, invitations to special in-store promotional events are extended throughout the year.
Historically, generic marketing activity undertaken by De Beers in the US 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, 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 divisions competitive marketing advantage, in particular the ability to advertise differentiated merchandise on national television is of growing importance. The US divisions five year record of gross advertising spend is given below:
In fiscal 2010, to reflect lower anticipated sales levels, marketing expenditure was further concentrated on the most productive channels and brands, and was planned to be in line with the advertising to sales ratio typical before fiscal 2008. The ratio of gross advertising spend to sales during fiscal 2010 was 6.0% (fiscal 2009: 7.4%), which was below the planned level due to the better than expected sales growth achieved in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010. Dollar gross marketing expenditure was reduced by 18.8% to $153.0 million (fiscal 2009: $188.4 million). Marketing efforts were focused on national television advertising for Kay and Jared, and the US division continued to have the leading share of voice within the US jewelry sector. Television advertising impressions in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010 for Kay were down mid single digits and for Jared increased marginally.
The Kay and Jared websites are among the most visited in the specialty jewelry sector and primarily provide potential customers with a source of information about the merchandise available. A significant majority of customers who buy after visiting the websites, do so in store where they can physically examine the product. Sales made directly from the websites rose significantly in fiscal 2010 but remain small in the context of the US division.
US Real Estate
Given the challenging environment, and managements strict investment criteria, action was taken in early fiscal 2009 to sharply slow the rate of store space growth and the level of store refurbishments. This was achieved by reducing the number of stores opened and increasing store closures as leases expired. Net store space in fiscal 2010 decreased by 1% (fiscal 2009: increase 4%), see table on page 82 for details. Capital expenditure in new and existing stores was $18.2 million (fiscal 2009: $56.3 million). Working capital investment, that is inventory and receivables, associated with new stores was $28.2 million (fiscal 2009: $66.5 million). In fiscal 2011, store capital expenditure is planned to amount to about $5 million on new space and about $35 million on existing stores, with about $11 million of working capital investment associated with new store openings.
Recent and planned investment in the store portfolio is set out below:
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 stores at a competitive disadvantage as the US division has a national pricing strategy.
US Customer Finance
In the US jewelry market, management believes that it is necessary for specialty retailers to offer credit facilities to the consumer. In fiscal 2010, 53.5% (fiscal 2009: 53.2%) of the US divisions sales were made using one of its in-house customer finance programs.
Management regards the provision of an in-house customer finance program, rather than one provided by a third party, as a competitive advantage for a number of reasons:
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 significant proportion of credit sales are made using interest-free financing for one year or less, subject to certain conditions. In most US states, customers are offered optional third party credit insurance.
The customer financing operation is 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. Signets current balance sheet and access to liquidity do not constrain the US divisions ability to grant credit, which is a further competitive advantage in the current economic environment.
Allowances for uncollectible amounts are recorded as a charge to cost of goods sold in the income statement. The allowance is calculated using a model that analyzes factors such as delinquency rates, recovery rates and other portfolio data. A 100% allowance is made for any amount that is 90 days past due 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 Signets portfolio.
Credit authorization and collection systems were centralized in 1994 and the overall credit offer to customers has been little changed during the last 15 years although the detailed terms have been changed, for example due to amendments to the Truth in Lending Act.
Each individual application for credit is evaluated against set 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. During fiscal 2010, an increase in credit acceptance rates followed the introduction of revised authorization criteria for some credit applicants based on the historic performance of parts of the credit portfolio. This did not reflect a change in the risk profile by which the credit operation was managed and was part of the normal review of such criteria. Management believes that a primary driver of the level of uncollectible receivables is the rate of change in the level of unemployment. 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.
As at January 30, 2010, the gross US receivables stood at $921.5 million (January 31, 2009: $886.1 million) and there was a bad debt allowance of $72.2 million (January 31, 2009: $69.5 million). The average level of gross receivables during fiscal 2010 was $845.1 million (fiscal 2009: $840.5 million).
Customer financing statistics
In fiscal 2010, the net bad debt charge at 5.6% of total US sales (fiscal 2009: 4.9%) was 0.7% higher than in fiscal 2009 and was again well above the tight range of 2.8% to 3.4% experienced in the ten years prior to fiscal 2009. However the performance in the fourth quarter showed some initial signs of stabilizing. Credit participation was little changed at 53.5% (fiscal 2009: 53.2%), and in the fourth quarter it was 20 basis points lower than in the comparable quarter in fiscal 2009.
Customer financing administration
Authorizations and collections are performed centrally at the US head office, rather than in each individual store. The majority of credit applications are processed and approved automatically after being initiated via in-store terminals, through a toll-free phone number or on-line through the US divisions websites. The remaining applications are reviewed by credit authorization agents. All applications are evaluated by scoring credit and using data obtained through third party credit bureaus. Collection procedures use risk-based calling and first call resolution strategies. In fiscal 2010, information technology, systems support and collection strategies were made more effective and additional investment is planned in fiscal 2011.
Truth in Lending Act
In fiscal 2011, the US division will have to comply with certain new provisions of the Truth in Lending Act, that became effective on February 22, 2010 and others of which will come into force in August 2010. Where possible,
actions have been taken to reduce the impact of these new provisions. Management expects that these new provisions will directly and adversely impact operating income by a net $15 million to $20 million in fiscal 2011, primarily because they will limit the timing and actions that the US division can take when a customer fails to make an agreed repayment. There may be a further indirect impact on sales arising from these amendments as a result of changes in consumer behavior. In addition, systems, procedures and credit terms have been amended to comply with changes in legislation.
Third party credit sales
In addition to in-house credit sales, the US stores accept major credit cards. Third party credit sales are treated as cash sales and accounted for approximately 39% (fiscal 2009: 38%) of total US sales during fiscal 2010.
US Management Tools and Communications
The US divisions 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 staff 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 e-mail. The EPOS system updates sales, in-house credit and perpetual inventory replenishment systems throughout the day for each store.
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 (including the Truth in Lending Act, see above), consumer credit insurance, truth in advertising and employment legislation. Management monitors changes in these laws to ensure that its practices comply with applicable requirements.
Movements in the US dollar to pound sterling exchange rate have an impact on the results of Signet as the UK division is managed in pounds sterling as sales and costs 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. Management believes that this presentation assists in the understanding of the performance of the UK division. The impact on reported US dollar figures of movements in pound sterling to the US dollar exchange rate is particularly marked in periods of exchange rate volatility. See Item 6 for analysis of results at constant exchange rates; non-GAAP measures.
The UK jewelry market grew at a compound rate of 3.7% per annum from 1997 to 2008 and grew by 2.6% in 2008, the last full year for which data is available (source: Office of National Statistics). Office of National Statistics figures are subject to frequent and sometimes large revisions. During 2009 revised figures were released that reduced the previous three years data by an average of 10.4%. In addition, management believes that Office of National Statistics data is of limited value in evaluating the market in which the UK division competes, due to the importance of the high end international jewelry retail business within the UK marketplace. Data for calendar 2009 is due to be published on March 30, 2010. Per capita spend on jewelry in the UK remains at approximately half of the level of the US.
The performance of the UK jewelry market can also be judged from the volume of jewelry items containing gold hallmarked by Assay Offices in the UK. Hallmarking volumes grew at a compound rate of 2.2% from 1997 to 2008. The volume declined in 2008 by 34.2% and in 2009 by 32.6% (source: Assay Offices of Great Britain).
The UK market includes specialty retail jewelers and general retailers who sell jewelry, 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. From business directories, management believes there are approximately 7,300 specialty retail jewelry stores in the UK, a decrease of about 100 on the previous year.
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, many 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 143, 66 and 34 stores respectively at January 30, 2010.
UK Competitive Strengths
Store operations and human resources
The ability of the sales associate to explain the merchandise and its value is essential to most jewelry purchases
Consumer offered greater value and selection
Leading brands in middle market sector
Well designed stores in primary locations with high visibility and traffic flows
UK Brand Reviews
Sales data by brand
H.Samuel accounted for 12% of Signets sales in fiscal 2010 (fiscal 2009: 13%), and is the largest specialty retail jewelry chain in the UK with an approximate 6% share of the total jewelry market. With nearly 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. It sells a broad range of gold and silver jewelry, an increasing proportion of diamond merchandise and a wide selection of watches, including Accurist, Citizen, DKNY, Guess, Rotary, Sekonda and Seksy. It also sells an increasingly focused range of gifts and collectables such as Nao and Swarovski.
H.Samuel had 347 stores at January 30, 2010 (January 31, 2009: 352) and is represented in nearly all large and most medium sized shopping centers, with an increasing focus on larger centers. Since September 2005, it has had an e-commerce capability, www.hsamuel.co.uk, which is the most visited UK specialty jewelry website (source: Hitwise).
In fiscal 2010, H.Samuel sales were £247.8 million (fiscal 2009: £250.3 million). E-commerce sales grew strongly but remain small in the context of the division. The average retail price of merchandise sold in H.Samuel was £52 (fiscal 2009: £48), and sales per store decreased to £712,000 (fiscal 2009: £718,000). The typical store selling space continues to be 1,100 square feet.
H.Samuel store data
Customer service is an increasingly key point of differentiation for H.Samuel and therefore staff training remains a priority. Historically the brands customers self selected merchandise from window displays and primarily required a cash and wrap service. Over the last nine years a more open store design was implemented and at January 30, 2010, 253 stores accounting for 80% of sales traded in this format. This is reflected in an increase over time in diamond jewelry and watch sales in the merchandise mix, and a rise in the average selling price.
Merchandising initiatives to increase further the differentiation of H.Samuel stores and to reinforce the brand perception as a specialty jeweler continue.
H.Samuel merchandise mix (excluding repairs, warranty and other miscellaneous sales)
In fiscal 2010, H.Samuel used national television advertising supplemented by advertising in national newspapers, catalog distributions and customer relationship marketing during the Christmas season. For the remainder of the year, a series of themed catalogs displayed in stores, mailed directly to targeted customers and distributed in newspapers, together with customer relationship marketing were the primary forms of marketing.
In fiscal 2010, two refits or resites were completed (fiscal 2009: 15) and 42 stores were redecorated (fiscal 2009: 27). Five refits or resites and 65 store redecorations are planned in fiscal 2011. The cost of store refurbishment has decreased significantly as the structural cost of removing window-based displays, to create the more open customer oriented store design, is not being repeated. In addition, the period of time between store refits is longer for the customer oriented store format.
H.Samuel has increasingly focused on bigger stores in larger shopping destinations, where it is better able to offer more specialist customer service and a wider range of jewelry, and benefit from the more open format. This reflects changing shopping patterns of customers. The number of H.Samuel stores in smaller markets has therefore declined as leases expire or suitable real estate transactions became available. Over the last five years there has been a reduction of 51 stores and about ten are planned to close in fiscal 2011.
Ernest Jones accounted for 10% of Signets sales in fiscal 2010 (fiscal 2009: 11%), and is the second largest specialty retail jewelry brand in the UK with an approximate 5% share of the total jewelry market. It serves the upper middle market and its customers typically have an annual household income of between £30,000 and £50,000. Ernest Jones sells a broad range of diamond and gold jewelry as well as prestige watches such as Baume & Mercier, Breitling, Cartier, Hamilton, Longines, Omega, Rado, Raymond Weil, Rolex and Tag Heuer. It also sells contemporary fashion watches such as Burberry, DKNY, Emporio Armani, Gucci, Hugo Boss, and a range of traditional watches including Rotary, Seiko and Tissot.
Ernest Jones had 205 stores at January 30, 2010 (January 31, 2009: 206) and is represented in nearly all large shopping centers. The typical store selling space continues to be 900 square feet. Since September 2006, Ernest Jones has had an e-commerce capability, www.ernestjones.co.uk, which is the second most visited UK specialty jewelry website (source: Hitwise).
Where local market size and merchandise considerations allow, a two-site strategy is followed using the Leslie Davis trading name. While having a similar customer profile to Ernest Jones, Leslie Davis is differentiated where possible by its product offer. There were 15 Leslie Davis stores at January 30, 2010 (January 31, 2009: 15).
In fiscal 2010, Ernest Jones sales were £209.8 million (fiscal 2009: £208.3 million). E-commerce is showing good growth although it accounted for only a small proportion of sales. Sales per store were £1,027,000 (fiscal 2009: £1,047,000) and the average selling price was £228 (fiscal 2009: £203) excluding the charm bracelet category that was significantly expanded in the second half of fiscal 2010 and has a much lower average selling price and higher purchase frequency than is typical in Ernest Jones.
Ernest Jones store data(1)
During fiscal 2010, a further 17 stores (including one new store) were converted to an enhanced store design. Increased emphasis was again placed on customer relationship marketing. The quality of staff training was further improved, with over 46% of Ernest Jones staff having gained an externally recognized jewelry industry qualification.
Watch participation in the merchandise mix was 35% and Ernest Jones continues to develop its relationships with leading watch distributors. Diamond jewelry sales were 39% (fiscal 2009: 40%).
Ernest Jones merchandise mix (excluding repairs, warranty and other miscellaneous sales)
During fiscal 2010, 16 refits and resites were completed (fiscal 2009: 31 refits and resites were completed, including two Leslie Davis stores). At January 30, 2010, 99 stores (January 31, 2009: 82), accounting for 63% of sales, traded in the more open format, including 58 in the enhanced design (January 31, 2009: 41), which had been successfully tested in fiscal 2008. This design increases the differentiation of the Ernest Jones stores from other specialty jewelers. 18 refits and resites are planned for fiscal 2011. In addition, 19 redecorations are planned (fiscal 2010: five).
The number of Ernest Jones stores has been broadly stable over the last five years and is expected to decline by about five in fiscal 2011. While locations would be considered for new stores, it would depend on the availability of both suitable sites and prestige watch agencies and none are planned in fiscal 2011.
UK Functional Review
Signets UK division operates as two brands with a single support structure and distribution center.
UK Customer Service and Human Resources
Management regards customer service as an essential element in the success of its business, and the divisions scale enables it to invest in industry-leading training. The Signet Jewellery Academy, a multi-year program and framework for training and developing standards of capability, is operated for all store staff. 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. In fiscal 2010, the UK division implemented an improved staff coaching methodology.
The UK divisional head office staff numbers were reduced in early fiscal 2010 as part of a cost reduction program. Store staff hours continued to be flexed, where possible, to reflect sales volumes.
UK Merchandising and Purchasing
Management believes that the UK divisions 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 consumer preferences. The vast majority of inventory is held at stores rather than in the central distribution facility.
The UK division sells an extensive range of merchandise including gold and silver jewelry, watches, diamond and gemstone set jewelry and gifts. As with other UK specialty retail jewelers, most jewelry sold is 9 carat gold.
Average merchandise unit selling price (£)
The average unit selling price increased by 6% in fiscal 2010, reflecting price increases implemented during fiscal 2010 and merchandise mix changes. Value items and the charm bracelet category performed well.
UK division merchandise mix (excluding repairs, warranty and other miscellaneous sales)
The UK division employs contract manufacturers for approximately 23% (fiscal 2009: 26%) of the diamond merchandise sold, thereby achieving cost savings. The decline in contract manufacturing reflected the strategy to grow value items, which were directly sourced from manufacturers. Approximately 20% of the UK businesss gold jewelry is manufactured on a contract basis through a buying office in Vicenza, Italy.
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 2010, the five largest of these suppliers (three watch and two jewelry) together accounted for approximately 30% of total UK division purchases (fiscal 2009: approximately 30%), with the largest accounting for around 6%.
Fine gold and loose diamonds account for about 20% and 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 and the pound sterling to Swiss franc has an important influence on their cost. In total, between 20% to 25% of cost 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 divisions cost of goods sold for other purchases. The price of fine gold in pounds sterling increased substantially during fiscal 2010 due to substantial increases in the dollar gold price and weakness of the pound sterling against the US dollar. The weakness in the pound sterling also adversely impacted the cost of diamonds and many other merchandise items. To largely mitigate these higher costs, the UK division increased prices.
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 successfully. Marketing campaigns are designed to reinforce and develop further the distinct brand identities. The campaigns for both brands aim to expand the overall customer base and improve customer loyalty. The UK divisions five year record of gross advertising spend is given below:
Gross marketing spend was reduced by 19% to £10.2 million (fiscal 2009: £12.6 million), the ratio to sales being 2.2% (fiscal 2009: 2.8%). While this may have had an adverse impact on the sales of H.Samuel, management believes that there was a positive impact on profitability. H.Samuel continued to use television advertising in the fourth quarter and expanded customer relationship marketing. For Ernest Jones, expenditure was focused on customer relationship marketing. Catalogs remain an important marketing tool for both H.Samuel and Ernest Jones. The e-commerce capabilities of both H.Samuel and Ernest Jones were enhanced during the year and their websites are the two most visited specialty jewelry websites in the UK (source: Hitwise).
UK Real Estate
In fiscal 2010, total store capital expenditure was £6.7 million (fiscal 2009: £18.4 million), as a result of a lower level of store refurbishment reflecting the uncertainty of investment proposals achieving the required return for authorization in the current economic environment. At January 30, 2010, 64% of the UK divisions stores (January 31, 2009: 60% of stores) were trading in the open consumer oriented format, and there were 347 H.Samuel stores (January 31, 2009: 352) and 205 Ernest Jones stores (January 31, 2009: 206). In fiscal 2011, store fixed capital investment is planned to be about £9 million.
Recent and planned investment in the store portfolio is set out below:
UK Insurance Loss Replacement Business
While substantially all the UK divisions sales are made directly to the consumer, management believes, based on its knowledge of the industry, that Signet is the leading UK jewelry retailer in the insurance loss replacement business. This involves the settlement of insurance claims by product replacement through jewelry stores rather than by cash settlements from the insurance company. A lower gross margin is earned on these transactions than on sales to individual customers. However, the UK division benefits from the resulting higher level of sales, greater customer traffic in the stores and the opportunity to create and build relationships with new customers. Given its nationwide store portfolio, breadth of product range and ability to invest in systems to support the business, the UK division has benefited from insurance companies settling claims in this manner. In fiscal 2010, the proportion of sales value generated from the insurance loss replacement business increased, but remains small in the context of the division.
UK Customer Finance
Following a successful test in early fiscal 2008, the UK division rolled out an enhanced third party own-label customer finance program. The program continued to grow in fiscal 2009 and fiscal 2010. The card is administered and funded by, and default risk resides with, a third party. The UK division pays a fee for this facility based on a percentage of the transaction value, which varies depending on which credit option is taken by the customer. In fiscal 2010, approximately 5% (fiscal 2009: 4%) of the divisions sales value was made through the customer finance program. Signet does not provide this service itself as the demand for customer finance is of insufficient scale. Bank credit card sales, which are treated as cash transactions, accounted for approximately 35% of sales (fiscal 2009: 31%).
UK Management Tools and Communications
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.
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.
Various laws and regulations affect Signets 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 with a view to ensuring that Signets practices comply with legal requirements.
Since February 1, 2010, 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 January 31, 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.
Spending on goods that are, or are perceived to be luxuries, such as jewelry, is discretionary and is affected by general economic conditions. Therefore adverse changes in the economy may unfavorably impact Signets sales and earnings
Jewelry purchases are discretionary and are dependent on 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, such as those currently being experienced, may unfavorably impact sales and earnings.
The success of Signets 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.
About half of US sales are made utilizing credit 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 Signets requirement to authorize credit and could in turn have an adverse effect on the US divisions 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 credit 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 US sales utilize in-house customer financing programs and about a further 39 per cent of purchases are made using third party credit cards. The 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 any change in regulations, or the application of regulations, relating to the provision of credit and associated services could adversely affect sales and income. In the US, certain new provisions of the Truth in Lending Act became effective on February 22, 2010 with further provisions expected to be introduced in August 2010, which limit the US divisions ability to charge fees and interest in relation to the provision of customer financing. Management estimates that this will have an adverse impact on operating income of between $15 million and $20 million in fiscal 2011 and by $20 million and $25 million in a full year. In addition, other restrictions and regulations 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.
Signets share price may be volatile
Signets share price may fluctuate substantially as a result of variations in the actual or anticipated financial results and financing 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.
Restrictions on the Signets ability to make distributions to shareholders may adversely impact the share price
In light of the adverse impact of the economic downturn on Signets financial performance, and the outlook in the medium term, in January 2009, the Board decided that it was inappropriate to make any form of distribution to shareholders. In addition, the amended revolving credit facility agreement and amended note purchase agreement entered into on March 13, 2009 contain terms that prohibit the Company from making distributions to shareholders (see page 77) until February 2011. Thereafter, until the private placement notes have been repaid there are restrictions on the Companys ability to make shareholder distributions. As such, the Company can give no assurances that any form of distribution will be made to shareholders in the medium term.
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
Signets business is highly seasonal, with a significant proportion of its sales and operating profit generated during its fourth quarter, which includes the Christmas 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 Valentines Day and Mothers Day would impact the results to a lesser extent.
Signet is dependent upon the availability of equity and debt financing to fund its operations
While Signet has a strong balance sheet with significant cash balances and available lines of credit, it is dependent upon, to some extent, the availability of equity and debt financing to help fund its operations and growth. If Signets 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 Signets ability to arrange, and the cost of arranging, credit facilities.
Management prepares annual budgets, medium term plans and headroom 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.
Signets 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 a financial covenant it would have to renegotiate its terms with current lenders or find alternative sources of finance if current lenders required early repayment.
In addition, Signets reputation in the financial markets and its corporate governance practices can influence the availability of capital, the cost of capital and its share price.
As Signet has material cash balances, it is exposed to counter party risks
At January 30, 2010, Signet had cash and cash equivalents of $316.2 million (January 31, 2009: $96.8 million). These balances are predominantly held in AAA rated liquidity funds and also with various banks.
If a liquidity fund were to default or one of the banks were to become bankrupt, 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 87% of its total assets in US dollars at January 30, 2010 and generated approximately 78% of its sales and 85% of its operating income in US dollars for the fiscal year then ended. The remainder of Signets 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, Signets results are particularly impacted by movements in the fourth quarter of its fiscal year, with the exchange rate in the first three 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 quarters 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 divisions 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 consolidated cash and cash equivalents and increase the amount of consolidated 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 division has an exposure to exchange rate fluctuations on the cost of goods sold.
Fluctuations in the availability and pricing of polished diamonds and gold, which account for the majority of Signets merchandise costs, could adversely impact its earnings
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.
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 and volatility in commodity costs usually result in a time lag before increased commodity costs are fully reflected in retail prices. There is no certainty that such price increases will be sustainable, so downward pressure on gross merchandise margins (see page 57 for definition) and earnings may occur.
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 entitythe Diamond Trading Company (DTC), a subsidiary of De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited. The DTCs share of the diamond supply chain has decreased over recent years and this may result in more volatility in rough diamond prices.
The availability of diamonds is to some extent dependent on the political situation in diamond producing countries. Until alternative sources can be developed, any sustained interruption in the supply of diamonds from the significant producing countries could adversely affect Signet and the retail jewelry industry as a whole.
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, the price of polished diamonds purchased by Signet increased but remained below the level of fiscal 2009. The cost of diamonds may increase further during fiscal 2011.
As a result of the overstocked position many major rough diamond producers very significantly reduced the supply of rough diamonds, particularly in the first half of fiscal 2010. The future level of supply of rough diamonds and the demand for polished diamonds is unknown, and this could result in volatility in the cost of diamonds to Signet.
It is forecast that over the medium and longer term, the demand for diamonds will probably increase faster than the growth in supply; therefore the cost of diamonds is anticipated to rise over time, although short term fluctuations in price may occur.
While jewelry manufacture is the major final demand for gold, the cost of gold is currently driven by investment transactions which have resulted in a significant increase in its cost. Therefore Signets cost of merchandise and potentially its earnings may be adversely impacted by investment market considerations.
The failure to satisfy the accounting requirements for hedge accounting, or default or bankruptcy of a counter party to a hedging contract, could adversely impact results
Signet hedges some of its purchases of gold and US dollar requirements of its UK division. The failure to satisfy the requirements of the appropriate accounting requirements, or default or bankruptcy 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 Signets business. The sharp downturn in world diamond sales, the increased level of bankruptcies among jewelry retailers and the considerable worldwide tightening in credit availability has increased the probability that a supplier may cease trading.
Also, if management misjudges expected customer demand, or fails to identify such changes and its supply chain does not respond in a timely manner, it could adversely impact Signets 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. Signets most significant supplier accounts for 5% of merchandise.
The 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 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.
An inability to recruit, train and retain suitably qualified staff 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 and retain suitably qualified sales staff could adversely impact sales and earnings.
Loss of confidence by consumers in Signets 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 together with the level and quality of customer service. The ability to differentiate Signets stores 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, it could harm the ability of Signet to attract customers.
The DTC promotes diamonds and diamond jewelry in the US. The level of support provided by the DTC and the success of the promotions influence the size of the total jewelry market in the US. As the DTCs market share has significantly reduced, it is changing its approach from generic marketing support of diamonds to one more closely associated with its own efforts to develop a brand such as the Forevermark and Everlon. The impact of the loss of generic marketing support is currently unknown and could unfavorably impact the overall market for diamonds and diamond jewelry and adversely impact sales and earnings.
The retail jewelry industry is highly fragmented and competitive. Aggressive discounting or going out of business sales by competitors may adversely impact Signets performance in the short term
The retail jewelry industry is competitive. If Signets competitive position deteriorates, operating results or financial condition could be adversely affected.
Aggressive discounting by competitors, particularly those facing financial pressures or holding going out of business sales, may adversely impact Signets 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. Management believes that a further above normal reduction in the number of US specialty jewelry stores is likely in fiscal 2011 and that further restructuring within the sector may occur which could result in aggressive discounting of competitors merchandise. In particular, Signets largest specialty jewelry competitor in the US, Zale Corporation, reported in its Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed on March 11, 2010 that Based on our cash flow projections for the remainder of calendar 2010, we may not have sufficient liquidity to meet our operating needs. The impact of all the foregoing on the competitive environment in which Signet operates is uncertain.
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 stores at a competitive disadvantage as the US division has a national pricing strategy.
Price increases may have an adverse impact on Signets 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 consumer to higher prices. Such price increases may result in lower achieved gross merchandise margin dollars and adversely impact earnings.
While Signets major competitors are other specialty jewelers, Signet also faces competition from other retailers including department stores, discount stores, apparel outlets and internet retailers that sell 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, Signets sales may decline.
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 Signets 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.
The inability to rent stores that satisfy managements operational and financial criteria could harm sales, as could changes in locations where customers shop
Signets 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 13% from General Growth Management. In fiscal 2010, Simon Property Group made an offer to acquire General Growth Management Inc. 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 the US division continues to test and develop new types of store locations there can be no certainty as to their success.
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.
Signets 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 Signets reputation, demand for merchandise by consumers, the ability to recruit staff, relations with suppliers and standing in the financial markets. Signets 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 Signets success and reputation will depend on its ability to meet these higher expectations.
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, several of which are used in the UK division, management would have to implement an alternative software package or begin supporting the software internally. Disruption to parts of the business could result in lower sales and increased costs.
In fiscal 2011, the UK division is changing its external information technology services provider. This could give rise to system disruption.
In fiscal 2012, management plans to relocate various functions, such as external financial reporting, budgeting, management accounting and treasury functions from London, England to Akron, Ohio. This could result in a high level of staff turnover in those functions and disruption to systems which could adversely impact the control and accounting functions of Signet.
An adverse decision in legal proceedings 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 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.
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.
Failure to comply with changes in law and regulations could adversely affect the business
Signets policies and procedures are designed to comply with all applicable laws and regulations. Changing legal and regulatory requirements (particularly in the US) have increased the complexity of the regulatory environment in which the business operates and the cost of compliance. Failure to comply with the various regulations may result in damage to Signets reputation, civil and criminal liability, fines and penalties, and further increase the cost of regulatory compliance.
Any difficulty integrating an acquisition or a business combination may result in expected returns and other projected benefits from such an exercise not being realized
While management does not currently contemplate any acquisition or business combination, Signet may in the future make acquisitions or be involved in a business combination. Any difficulty in integrating an acquisition or a business combination 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. Signets borrowing agreements place constraints on its ability to make an acquisition or enter into a business combination.
Changes in assumptions used in calculating pension assets and liabilities may impact Signets results and balance sheet
In the UK, Signet operates a defined benefit pension scheme (the Group Scheme), which ceased to admit new employees in 2004. The valuation of the Group Schemes assets and liabilities partly depends on assumptions
based on the financial markets as well as longevity and staff retention rates. This valuation is particularly sensitive to material changes in the value of equity investments held by the Group Scheme, changes in the UK AA rated corporate bond yields which are used in the measurement of the liabilities, changes in market expectations for long term price inflation and new evidence on projected longevity rates. Funding requirements and the income statement items relating to this closed Group Scheme are also influenced by these factors.
Under the UK Pensions Act 2004, the Pensions Regulator has powers to vary and impose funding arrangements that could be more onerous than may be agreed with or proposed to the trustees. In addition, the provisions of the Pensions Act 2004 may restrict Signets freedom to undertake certain re-organization steps or to effect returns on capital or unusual dividends without the prior agreement of the Group Scheme trustees, in consultation with the Pensions Regulator. A negative change in the assumptions used to calculate the value of pension assets and liabilities may adversely impact Signets results and balance sheet.
Loss of one or more key executive officers or employees could adversely impact performance, as could the appointment of an inappropriate successor or successors
Signets future success will depend substantially upon the ability of senior management and other key employees to implement the 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 Signets ability to conduct its business. The Chief Executive has announced his intention to stand down on January 29, 2011, and the Group Finance Director has announced that he plans to retire at the conclusion of the Companys Annual General Meeting to be held in June 2010.
The appointment of an appropriate successor to either of these positions could be challenging given Signets leadership position within the jewelry sector. Any outside appointment may not have the same level of experience in the jewelry sector as the retiring executives. However, internal appointments may have considerably less experience in managing a public company than an external appointment. In addition, there could be short term disruption during the transition period between senior executives and further management changes may occur as a result of an appointment.
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.
Signet attributes great importance to the location and appearance of its stores. Accordingly, in both Signets US and UK operations, investment decisions on selecting sites and refurbishing stores are made centrally, and strict real estate and investment criteria are applied.
Substantially all of Signets US stores are leased. In addition to a minimum annual rental, the majority of mall stores are also liable to pay turnover related rent based on sales above a specified base level. In fiscal 2010, most
of the divisions 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 the same operational and investment criteria as for a new store. Where management is uncertain whether the location will meet managements required return on investment, but the store is profitable, the leases may be renewed for one to three years during which time the stores 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 turnover related. A refurbishment of a Jared store is normally undertaken every ten years. At January 30, 2010 the average unexpired lease term of US leased premises was six years and about half of 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 $330,000 and $390,000 for a mall location and between $850,000 and $1,250,000 for a Jared store. In fiscal 2009 and fiscal 2010, the level of new store openings was substantially below that in fiscal 2006, fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2008. Management expects that store openings in fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2012 will also be less than in fiscal 2006, fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2008. In fiscal 2010, the level of major store refurbishment was below that of recent years with 16 mall locations being completed (fiscal 2009: 38). It is anticipated that refurbishment activity will increase in fiscal 2011 to 52, including 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 13% from General Growth Management, Inc. In fiscal 2010, Simon Property Group made an offer to acquire General Growth Management Inc. The division has no other relationship with any lessor relating to 10% or more of its store locations.
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 Signets US operations.
A 340,000 square foot head office and distribution facility is leased in Akron, Ohio. On February 2, 2007 a new 25 year lease was entered into for this facility. On January 1, 2007 a 25 year lease was entered into for an 86,000 square foot office building next door to the head office. Space surplus to Signets requirements in this building is currently sublet or is available to be sublet. A 19,000 square foot repair center was opened during fiscal 2006 and is owned by a subsidiary of Signet. There are no plans for any major capital expenditure related to the head office and distribution facilities.
At January 30, 2010, Signets UK division traded from seven freehold premises, five premises where the lease had a remaining term in excess of 25 years and 542 other leasehold premises. The divisions 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 30, 2010, 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 page 83.
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 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 Signets UK operations.
A typical H.Samuel store historically has had a major refurbishment every seven years and an Ernest Jones store every ten years. Once an H.Samuel store has been converted to the current format, the cost and frequency of subsequent major refurbishments is less, but much less costly store redecorations are now required, typically every five years. At January 30, 2010, 73% of H.Samuel stores and 48% of Ernest Jones stores traded in the converted format. It is anticipated that by the end of fiscal 2014 nearly all the UK stores will trade in the converted format. The investment will be financed by cash from operating activities. The cost of refitting to the customer friendly open format is between £200,000 and £300,000 for H. Samuel and Ernest Jones. The cost of subsequently refitting an H.Samuel store is approximately half as much and there is also expected to be a reduction in the cost of subsequent refits for Ernest Jones.
Signet owns a 255,000 square foot warehouse and distribution center in Birmingham, where certain of the UK divisions central administration functions are based, as well as e-commerce 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 central functions are located in a 7,200 square foot office in central London, on a ten year lease which was entered into in 2005.
The capacity of the US distribution center was increased in fiscal 2009 and it is anticipated that there will be sufficient capacity to support medium term sales growth. The UK distribution center has sufficient capacity for the anticipated future requirements of the business.
See discussion of legal proceedings in Note 21 of Item 8.
Prior to September 11, 2008, the ordinary shares of Signet Group plc (the Predecessor Company) were traded on the London Stock Exchange and American Depositary Shares (ADSs) representing those shares were quoted on the NYSE. Each ADS represented ten ordinary shares. Prior to November 16, 2004, the ADSs were traded on NASDAQ (symbol: SIGY). Prior to October 18, 2004 the ratio of ordinary shares per ADS had been 30:1.
On September 11, 2008 with the approval of the High Court of Justice in England and Wales, a scheme of arrangement (the Scheme) was effected. Under the terms of the Scheme, a new group holding company, Signet Jewelers Limited, was established. Common Shares in the new company, which has its primary listing on the NYSE, were distributed to the shareholders of the Predecessor Company in proportion to their original holding (subject to fractional entitlements) following a 1-for-20 reverse share split (share consolidation). Holders of ADSs received one new Common Share for every two ADSs held.
Historic share prices have been adjusted for the events noted above.
The following table sets forth the high and low share price on each stock exchange for the periods indicated.
Number of holders
As of March 21, 2010 there were 13,652 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.
In fiscal 2009, total equity dividends of $123.8 million were paid. Historic dividend per share amounts have been restated to reflect the 1-for-20 reverse stock split that took place on September 11, 2008. In July 2008, a dividend of $1.2634 per share was paid and in November 2008, an interim dividend of $0.192 per share was paid.
Signet did not pay any dividends in fiscal 2010, nor is it expected to do so in fiscal 2011. The restrictions contained in its borrowing agreements to making shareholder distributions are discussed in Item 7.
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 Signets 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 30, 2010. The comparison of the cumulative total returns for each investment assumes that $100 was invested in Signets Common Shares and the respective indices on February 1, 2005 through January 30, 2010 including reinvestment of any dividends, and is adjusted to reflect the 1-for-20 share consolidation and the scheme of arrangement discussed above.
The following graph compares the cumulative total return to holders of Signets Common Shares against the cumulative total return of the FTSE All Share Index and the FTSE General Retailers Index for the five year period ended January 30, 2010. The comparison of the cumulative total returns for each investment assumes that £100 was invested in Signets Common Shares and the respective indices for the period February 1, 2005 through January 30, 2010 including reinvestment of any dividends, and is adjusted to reflect the 1-for-20 share consolidation and the scheme of arrangement discussed above.
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.
The following are brief and general summaries of the United Kingdom and United States 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 HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 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 UK, the US (or any US laws other than those pertaining to income tax) 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 persons resident, ordinarily resident and domiciled for tax purposes in the UK who hold Common Shares as an investment, and 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), 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 pass-through entities), mutual funds, insurance companies, 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 Companys shares.
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 United Kingdom or resident or otherwise subject to taxation in a jurisdiction outside the United Kingdom or the United States, you should consult your own professional advisers immediately.
The Company is incorporated in Bermuda. The directors intend to conduct the Companys 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.
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).
Individuals who hold their Common Shares within an individual savings account (ISA) and are entitled to ISA-related tax reliefs 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 2009/10). 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 2009/10). A new rate of income tax (the additional rate) will apply to individuals with taxable income over £150,000 with effect from April 6, 2010. A UK resident individual shareholder subject to the additional rate will be liable to income tax on their dividend income at a new higher rate of 42.5% of the gross dividend to the extent that the gross dividend when treated as the top slice of the shareholders income falls above the £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 individuals 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). From April 6, 2010, 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 new 50% rate of income tax.
Individual shareholders who hold their Common Shares in an ISA and are entitled to ISA-related tax reliefs in respect of the same will not be taxed on the dividends from those Common Shares but are not entitled to recover from HMRC the tax credit on such dividends.
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 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 UK. The Company has confirmed that it does not intend to keep such a register in the UK.
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 the income of which 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 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 companys 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, 2011 will generally be taxable at a maximum tax rate of 15%.
Sale or exchange of Common Shares
Gain or loss realised 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 holders 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.
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 holders 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 the assets and income of any other corporation of whose shares it owns at least 25% by value. Consequently, the Companys classification under the PFIC rules will depend primarily upon the composition of Signets 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 a companys 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 the Common Shares.
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 28, 2016, 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.
The financial data included below for fiscal 2010, fiscal 2009 and fiscal 2008 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 2007 and fiscal 2006 have been derived from the previously published consolidated audited financial statements not included in this document.
The financial statements of Signet for fiscal 2008, fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2006 were prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards, which differ in certain respects from US GAAP. Any figures used for these years have been converted to US GAAP in this Form 10-K.
Historic per share data have been adjusted to take account of the 1-for-20 reverse share split (share consolidation) undertaken as part of the move of the primary listing of the shares of the parent company to the NYSE, effective September 11, 2008.
GAAP AND NON-GAAP MEASURES
The discussion and analysis of Signets 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 Signets 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.
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
Movements in the US dollar to pound sterling exchange rate have an impact on the 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 is inappropriate to hedge this exposure as the UK divisions sales and costs are both incurred in pounds sterling, and therefore 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 years exchange rate.
1. Underlying operating income, underlying income/(loss) before income tax, underlying net income, underlying earnings per share and underlying operating margin percentage
In fiscal 2009, the following non-recurring costs were included in operating income: $516.9 million for impairment of goodwill; and $10.5 million of relisting costs in respect of the move in primary listing to the NYSE. In fiscal 2010, the US division benefited by $13.4 million due to a change in its vacation entitlement policy. This benefit will not recur in subsequent fiscal years. Management considers it useful to exclude these significant, unusual and non-recurring items to analyze and explain changes and trends in Signets and its divisions results. These underlying amounts are also shown excluding the impact of movements in the pound sterling to US dollar exchange rate.
(a) Fiscal 2010 reconciliation to underlying results
(b) Fiscal 2009 reconciliation to underlying results and constant exchange rates
(c) Fiscal 2010 percentage change in underlying results and at constant exchange rates
(d) Fiscal 2009 percentage change in underlying results and at constant exchange rates
(e) Fourth quarter fiscal 2010 percentage change in underlying results and at constant exchange rates
The underlying results are reported results adjusted for an unfavourable $1.6 million movement in the fourth quarter vacation entitlement accrual in fiscal 2010 and $408.0 million and $108.9 million impairment of goodwill for the US and UK divisions respectively during fiscal 2009.
2. Cost of sales, gross margin and selling, general and administrative expenses at constant exchange rates
Management considers it useful to exclude the impact of exchange rate movements to analyze and explain changes and trends in Signets costs.
3. Net debt
Net debt is the total of loans, overdrafts and long term debt less cash and cash equivalents, and is helpful in providing a measure of the total indebtedness of the business.
4. Net debt to shareholders equity excluding goodwill (Gearing)
Gearing is the ratio of net debt to shareholders equity excluding goodwill, and is a useful measure for understanding the financial leverage of the business on a consistent basis.
5. Return on capital employed excluding goodwill (ROCE)
ROCE is calculated by dividing the annual operating income by the average monthly capital employed excluding goodwill for that year, expressed as a percentage. Capital employed includes other intangible assets, property, plant and equipment, other non-current receivables, inventories, trade and other receivables; less trade and other payables, deferred income and retirement benefit obligations. 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 Signets and the divisions operating assets and has historically been used for some performance awards.
6. Fixed charge cover; net debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization; and net tangible asset value
These non-GAAP measures are calculated exactly in accordance with Signets debt covenants as defined in the original and amended material Note Purchase and Facility Agreements. They are reported to the Note Holders and the lending banks and need to be met in order to maintain these funding facilities. The reporting of these measures provides an investor with an understanding of Signets ability to meet these conditions, which are described in Item 7.
7. Net income adjusted for non-cash items
Net income adjusted for non-cash items shows the amount of net cash flow generated from Signets operating activities before changes in operating assets and liabilities. It is a useful measure to summarize the cash generated from activities reported in the income statement.
8. 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. 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.