Leicester-based jeweller Goldsmiths lifts profits after sparkling festive sales
Jewellery chain Goldsmiths has given the high street a much-needed boost after reporting sparkling sales over the Christmas and new year period.
The retailer's Leicester owner, Aurum Holdings, said trading at Goldsmiths stores open for at least a year were up 8 per cent in the eight weeks to January 13.
Sales across all outlets run by Aurum, which includes the Mappin & Webb brand, increased by 9 per cent on the same measure.
Bosses said the success was down to improved product availability and the growth of online sales.
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The group, which has more than 120 stores, said the performance is expected to have boosted profits for the year to February 3 above the earnings of £18.3 million reported for the previous 12-month period.
Justin Stead, chief executive of Aurum, said: "Despite a challenging economic and trading environment, we have achieved another very strong performance over the festive period.
"These results show our strategy to constantly improve our product offering, online position and customer experience has been a success and one which we will continue to implement in 2013 to deliver significant growth."
Aurum's buoyant sales follow the collapse of Leicester-based camera chain Jessops, entertainment group HMV and DVD rental chain Blockbuster over the past week.
Other major high street names are reported to be vulnerable to collapse thanks to the double whammy of economic uncertainty and tough competition from supermarkets and online operators.
The jewellery group's success highlights the fact that some retailers are still performing well, despite the gloom hanging over the sector.
The performance of Aurum, like Enderby fashion chain Next – which has notched up four consecutive years of record profits – is down to skilled management and a strong online business.
Last month, Aurum was bought by private equity firm Apollo Global Management for £175 million. It came three years after Icelandic shareholder Baugur put the group's UK arm into administration. This was followed by a restructuring, with Aurum swapping £47 million of debt with Icelanic bank Landsbanki for a bigger share in the business.
The group ended up being controlled by the resolution committee of Landsbanki, with Aurum's management holding a smaller stake.
Aurum employs about 380 people at its head office in Elland Road, Braunstone Frith, and more than 20 staff at two Goldsmiths stores in Leicester's Highcross shopping centre.
Founded in 1778, Goldsmiths has more than 120 stores. It has the UK's largest distribution network for Rolex and Omega watches. Mappin & Webb was founded in 1774, while Aurum also owns Watches of Switzerland.