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Birks Shares Down on Holiday Sales Drop

Same-store revenues decline during holiday and quarter.

Shares of Birks Group Inc. dropped 9.2 percent to $1.45 in morning trading as the Montreal-based jewelry retailer reported lower comparable-store sales for holiday.

Birks said comps for the November-December period declined 1 percent, with a 2 percent increase in U.S. operations offset by a 3 percent decline in Canada, where the firm operates the majority of its stores under the Maison Birks brand.

Improved results in the U.S. reflected an increase in average transaction while Canadian performance was marred by winter storms and the holiday season’s highly promotional environment.

“Much of the significant progress we made over the seven months prior to the holiday period were not able to offset the loss of store traffic experienced in Canada towards the end of the calendar year,” said Jean-Christophe Bédos, president and chief executive officer of Birks. “We remain confident, however, that continuing forward with our key strategies is an essential element in driving sales and profit growth across all our stores.”

Birks said total revenues for the third quarter — the three months concluding in December — were down 6.8 percent to $94.5 million from $101.4 million during the prior-year period. Contributing to the decline were a five-unit reduction in store count, lower revenues related to precious metal refining services offered to customers in Canada and $3.1 million in lower sales due to currency translation.

Third-quarter comps were flat, with comps up 2 percent in the U.S. and down the same percentage in Canada.

Birks reported its holiday results after the close of the equity markets on Wednesday. It provided no guidance on the effect of the revenue decline on third-quarter earnings. The company’s comps climbed 11 percent during its second quarter.

Birks Wednesday morning suffered the steepest decline of the fashion, retail and beauty stocks tracked by WWD. The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group was down 0.2 percent to 918.88 at noon while the Dow Jones Industry Average and S&P 500 gained 0.7 and 0.6 percent, respectively.

Among publicly held jewelers, Zale Corp. shares finished the morning down 1 percent to $14.53 while Signet Jewelers Ltd.’s were flat at $72.65. Tiffany & Co. shares rose 0.3 percent to $88.50.

Jewelry sales were among the bright spots during the recently completed, highly promotional holiday season. Zale’s comps rose 2 percent during the November-December period while Tiffany & Co.’s worldwide comps were up 6 percent.

As of Jan. 10, Birks operated 30 stores under the Maison Birks brand in Canada, 20 Mayors stores in the Southeastern U.S., two Canadian stores under the Brinkhaus nameplate and one Rolex store.