Signet, which recently warned its profits this year would not exceed last year's, yesterday revealed that third-quarter profits slumped 57 per cent due to weak consumer spending in Britain.
Pretax profit fell to £3 million in the 13-week period to October 29 from £7 million in the same period a year ago.
But the third quarter is usually one of low profitability, and the jeweller said its businesses were in good shape to compete through the crucial Christmas period.
The last quarter through December typically contributes 40 per cent of annual sales and around 70 per cent of profits to the 1,803-strong retail group. Last year's annual profit came to £203.9 million.
The operator of retail chains including H Samuel, Ernest Jones and Leslie Davis in the UK and Kay Jewellers and Jared in the US has been outperforming other jewellers in the States, which contributes 70 per cent of its sales.
US operating profit rose 20 per cent to £9.5 million in the third quarter.
Chief executive Terry Burman said, however, that the gross margin was expected to be down by 40 to 60 basis points for the year and he anticipated up to £3 million in costs for the repair of damage caused by recent hurricanes.
In the UK, the outlook is weaker. Although transaction values are up, consumers are not out shopping.
The business turned in an operating loss of £2.5 million, compared with profit of £3.7 million this time last year. However, the group said it was keeping tight control of costs, gross margin and stock levels as it battled against subdued consumer spending.
Total UK sales for the quarter were down from £97.4 million to £90.5 million.