Signet Jewelers is launching an internal restructuring in an effort to stem a continued decline in sales and profits, but Wall Street doesn’t seem optimistic.
Shares of the jewelry retailer fell 20.24 percent to $38.22, an all-time low, after it revealed total sales for fiscal 2017 down 2.4 percent to $6.25 billion and net income attributable to common shareholders of $486.4 million, compared with $531.3 million in fiscal 2016.
The company attributed the decline to a 5.3 percent drop in same-store sales, chief executive officer Virginia Drosos admitted it was a “challenging year” for Signet, and said the company would be undergoing a three-year restructuring plan to “reinvigorate” the company, which will include the close more than 200 stores, mainly in malls, by the end of this fiscal year.
Some of the expected cost savings will be reinvested in “growth initiatives,” Drosos said, like more innovative store concepts, but the company overall is in need of a lot of updating.
“We did not invest fast enough in omnichannel initiatives, particularly mobile and have been too slow to capture our fair share of the online channel, both in terms of traffic and conversion,” Drosos said during a call with financial analysts. “We have less effective product innovation success and did not invest enough in differentiated products. As product life cycles have shortened, our innovation pipeline has not been robust enough to offset the natural decline of some of our larger selections. Our banner brand equities have become less relevant and our in-store experience and communication platforms need updating.”
Drosos added that all of Signet’s brands, including Kay, Jared and Piercing Pagoda, have been relying “too heavily on the promotional lever, which has incentivize customers to buy on deal and created a value perception problem.” Employee moral has also suffered while the company failed to respond to larger shifts in retail, including declining mall traffic and online shopping.
Last year also saw numerous accounts of harassment come to the fore through an ongoing class-wide lawsuit, currently in private arbitration, alleging gender-based pay and promotion discrimination throughout Signet’s retail stores. Drosos was named ceo in the wake of the published accounts, becoming Signet’s first female top-level executive. She’s since added two additional women to the company’s board, which now has an equal number of men and women.
Signet last year experienced some operational issues, too, related to its decision to sell its credit business, which also cut about $20 million in profits related to interest income it previously received, according to Drosos. This year will see Signet sell the remaining portion of its credit receivables to a group of investment funds managed by CarVal Investors for up to $435 million, which will be used to buy back shares of common stock.
“The good news is many of our problems are fixable,” Drosos said. “We can and we will correct them.”
Outside of closing stores, the ceo said the restructuring will get rid of some costs that “customers do not see or care about,” and turn the company’s focus to boosting Signet’s overall relevance and value for shoppers through store and media updates, as well as its online and mobile channels. Data science will also be brought into a new marketing mix to measure impact and optimize campaigns and he company is looking at altering its overall pricing structure.
All of this will be funded by an expected $200 million in cost savings related to changes in sourcing, logistics information technology, third-party contracts and corporate spending, Drosos said.
Despite these plans, the current fiscal year is set to be disappointing. Same store sales are set to be down by low-to mid-single digits, on total revenue down to an estimated $5.9 billion.
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