After delivering first-quarter sales growth of 18.8 percent, Montreal-based jeweler Birks & Mayors Inc. said it was “seriously considering” entering the Chinese market.


With the company coming off a turbulent two years, president and chief executive officer Tom Andruskevich said on the quarterly conference call Wednesday that he was encouraged by the “improving” economic environments in the U.S. and Canada, so much so that the brand is now exploring its move into China, and has recently sought out partners in Hong Kong and mainland China.


Bolstered by favorable currency translation into U.S. dollars from a stronger Canadian dollar, sales for the 13 weeks ended June 25 revved up in the first quarter to $71.2 million from year-ago sales of $59.9 million.


The company, which will report net income in its annual report, said quarterly comparable-store sales increased 10 percent, and was buoyed by a 15 percent comp rise at U.S. stores. Canadian stores registered a 6 percent comp increase.


“We plan to continue to build on our sales momentum and will continue to manage the level and productivity of our inventory, control expenses and limit capital expenditures while continuing to focus on providing superior customer service and maintaining strong client relationships,” the ceo said.
For the fiscal year ended March 27, the firm said it narrowed its net loss to $7.7 million, or 68 cents a diluted share, from a loss of $19.5 million, or $1.71 a share, a year earlier.


Annual sales grew 6.2 percent to $270.9 million, from $255.1 million in 2010. Comps increased 2 percent. Gross margin for the year improved to 42.8 percent of sales versus year-ago margin of 41 percent.


Birks & Mayors operates 61 luxury jewelry stores, 27 of which are located in Florida and Georgia and the remaining 34 in Canada.

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