By  on July 21, 2009

Birks & Mayors Inc. weathered a 26 percent decrease in sales during its first quarter and provided a bleak outlook for results in the months ahead.

The Montreal-based operator of the Birks, Mayors and Brinkhaus jewelry retail nameplates said sales in the three months ended June 27 were $53.6 million, down from $72.4 million in the first quarter of 2008. Comparable-store sales declined 20 percent, as a 13 percent decline in Canada partially offset a 26 percent dip in the U.S.

Currency translation also figured in the $18.8 million revenue falloff, as translation of the weaker Canadian dollar into U.S. dollars subtracted $4.3 million from the top line.

“This year’s fiscal first-quarter sales results continued to reflect the recessionary environment and severe drop in consumer confidence that has reduced demand for luxury retail products,” said Thomas Andruskevich, president and chief executive officer.

He allowed that the firm has been “encouraged” by an improvement in the rate of same-store sales declines since April, but concluded that “the competitive landscape, including the liquidation sales of jewelry and timepieces, will continue to create a challenging sales environment for the company and the jewelry industry.”

Earlier this month, Birks & Mayors reported that, excluding impairment and other items, it registered a net loss of $14.6 million in the year ended March 28 as net sales declined 13.9 percent to $270.9 million, and fell 14 percent on a comp basis. Of the loss for the year, $12.8 million came in the fourth quarter, when sales fell 23.3 percent to $49.2 million and comps tumbled 16 percent.

The jewelry market has sustained considerable erosion during the current recession, hurt not only by declines in luxury spending, but also by surviving jewelers having to compete with the liquidation sales of bankrupt chains such as Whitehall Jewelers and Fortunoff.

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