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Signet Jewlers Ltd. to acquire Ultra Stores

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Signet Jewelers Ltd. announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Ultra Stores, Inc. from Crystal Financial LLC. and its other stockholders for approximately $57 million in cash. Ultra operates stores primarily in outlet centers, as well as licensed jewelry departments.

Signet will not assume any debt in connection with the acquisition.

"The addition of Ultra will immediately result in our having a significant share of the outlet channel for jewelry," said Michael W. Barnes, CEO of Signet Jewelers. "We had identified this rapidly growing channel as an opportunity to profitably increase our sales, enabling us to leverage our competitive strengths and add Ultra’s expertise to our team.”

Signet Jewelers’ U.S. division operates over 1,300 stores in all 50 states primarily under the name brands of Kay Jewelers and Jared The Galleria of Jewelry. Signet’s UK division operates approximately 500 stores primarily under the name brands of H. Samuel and Ernest Jones.

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Jones Group’s profit helped by sales to department stores

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Jones Group Inc. reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by a rise in sales of shoes and jeans to U.S. department stores, which helped make up for a big drop in business at its own stores.

Third-quarter revenue slipped 0.7% to $1.035 billion as sales at the company’s U.S. stores were down 6.7%.

Net income fell to $17.8 million from $41.2 million a year earlier. But excluding charges related to severance and the writedown of the cost of some assets related to store closings and other restructuring costs, as well as some gains and charges related to currency fluctuations and other items, the company earned 57 cents per share. That compared with the average analyst forecastof 32 cents a share.

"Our domestic wholesale footwear and accessories and jeanswear businesses were our best performers, while our structured sportswear business and retail channels remained more challenging and promotional,” said Wesley R. Card, CEO, Jones Group. “Our international segments continued to perform quite well, especially in the face of a difficult economic climate, particularly in Western Europe."

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Fred Meyer selects TD Retail Card Services for private label credit card

BY Staff Writer

MAHWAH, N.J. — The Fred Meyer Jewelers division of Kroger Co. has selected TD Retail Card Services to take over the private label credit card program for its Fred Meyer Jewelers and Littman Jewelers stores.

Under the agreement, the business unit of TD will direct all facets of the program for the company’s 344 fine jewelry stores in 32 states.

"Our partnership with TD Retail Card Services represents our continual effort to upgrade and improve our customers’ shopping experience. We are very excited to be able to offer customers even more savings and additional benefits with new and improved special financing, helping them celebrate life’s special occasions with the timeless gift of fine jewelry," says Peter Engel, president of Fred Meyer Jewelers.

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