Signet CEO sees more strength ahead for online jewelry sales, which doubled in latest quarter

Key Points
  • "I think the pandemic has changed customer shopping behavior forever," Signet CEO Gina Drosos told CNBC on Thursday.
  • The jewelry retailer has responded accordingly by investing heavily in improving its e-commerce operations, Drosos said.
  • Shares of Signet rose 14% on Thursday after the company beat Wall Street expectations on quarterly sales and per-share earnings.

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Signet Jewelers CEO Gina Drosos on first-quarter earnings
Signet Jewelers CEO Gina Drosos on first-quarter earnings

Signet Jewelers CEO Gina Drosos expressed optimism Thursday around the company's investments in e-commerce, telling CNBC she expects them to pay off even after the Covid pandemic passes.

"I think the pandemic has changed customer shopping behavior forever. We're seeing a lot more customers come to us online, even if not to purchase, to look at selection, to become educated," Drosos said on "Closing Bell."

It is translating into digital sales, to be sure. Earlier Thursday, the owner of Zales and Kay Jewelers reported e-commerce revenue of $346.3 million in the quarter ending May 1, an increase of 110% compared with the same period a year ago. It's also up about 125% compared with the same quarter two years ago, before the Covid crisis.

Signet's overall sales for the 2022 fiscal first quarter checked in at $1.69 billion, beating Wall Street expectations of $1.62 billion. Per-share earnings of $2.23 topped analyst forecasts of $1.27.

"Our transformation plan is working," said Drosos, who has served as Signet CEO since 2017. The former Procter & Gamble executive has been a Signet board member since 2012.

Drosos said Signet has taken a range of steps to capture share of the online jewelry market.

"We added during the pandemic more than 700 virtual jewelry consultants," Drosos said, and the company also recently added capabilities through Apple's Business Chat and Google's Business Messages.

"We're improving our websites rapidly — more than 100 new features added during the first quarter," Drosos said. "We think we have a unique opportunity and a competitive advantage as we create a superior online experience connected to our scaled store footprint."

Signet, which also operates the Jared and Piercing Pagoda brands, has around 2,800 stores, according to its earnings release. In March, Drosos told CNBC the company was looking to "optimize" its locations, in part by reducing exposure to lower-quality malls.

Shares of Signet rose 14% on Thursday, hitting a new 52-week high of $74.80 intraday, as investors reacted to the company's before-the-bell earnings results and its full-year guidance hike.

Signet's stock is up 467% over the past 12 months, based on its Thursday close of $69.58 per share.