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Signet Revamps Rules as Some Branches Reopen

May 7, 2020 5:07 AM   By Leah Meirovich
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RAPAPORT... Signet Jewelers has reopened more than 130 US stores and is planning to unlock up to 50 more doors in time for Mother’s Day as some states are allowing retailers to do business again.

The company, which owns Kay Jewelers, Jared and Zales, has implemented initiatives to help it continue selling during the coronavirus pandemic, Bill Luth, Signet’s executive vice president of global store operations, told Rapaport News this week.

“We certainly don’t want to open up the way we closed,” Luth said. “When we closed our stores, we did not have technology to enable our managers to work remotely.”

Signet shut its more than 2,900 stores across the US and Canada on March 23 and furloughed many of its workers as the COVID-19 virus spread in North America. However, many states are now allowing retailers to do business if customers don’t enter the premises.

Finding work-arounds

As a result, Signet has some of its operational stores working at partial capacity and is offering curbside pickup for its customers at locations that are currently not permitted to open to the public. To secure these transactions, each sale is assigned a secret password for both the employee delivering the purchased item, and the customer in the car picking it up, Luth explained.

The company is also enabling employees to connect with customers at home, make virtual appointments, and then co-browse with customers online, offering advice and providing feedback. Other new features implemented during the lockdown are a “live advice” button on its websites, allowing customers to have a virtual jewelry consultation, in a similar fashion to being in the store. Signet has also set up videoconferencing with clients, as well as contactless payments and different paying options, Luth noted.

“We believe that customer shopping patterns have currently been changed,” he stressed. “There’s starting to be a spectrum of perspective about retail shopping as a whole. Some aren’t going to have any problems going into a mall or crowded area, while for others it could be quite some time before they want to return to that kind of normal. As a retailer, we have to be responsive to that spectrum of expectation.”

Health-and-safety protocols

While the jeweler is required to follow the health-and-safety guidelines of the states in which it operates, it has also implemented its own measures that all banners must follow.

Each worker must provide a daily affirmation of his or her own health, touch surfaces in stores must be cleaned daily, and high-traffic customer spaces need to be wiped down every few hours. Certain areas, including jewelry, will be cleaned before and after a customer has used them, and team members will be required to wear face masks and gloves, use sanitizer and wash hands frequently, Luth noted. The company is also limiting the number of people in each of its stores to allow proper social distancing.

What the future holds

In addition to the 130 stores that have already opened, Signet will resume operations at another 40 or 50 stores by the end of the week, Luth said. The company believes it will see a surge of Mother’s Day purchasing prior to May 10, especially as social distancing doesn’t allow for excursions. Beyond that, the jeweler was careful not to offer any prediction about how the market will emerge from the lockdown.

“I think it’s very hard to tell what demand will be when all is said and done,” Luth opined. “I wish everyone had a crystal ball and...someone could forecast what the world would look like in a few weeks. As we open our stores, we can begin to measure customer response, and react accordingly.”

Signet is expected to publish its first-quarter earnings results in early June.
Main image: A Kay Jewelers store in New York. Inset: Bill Luth. (Shutterstock, Signet Jewelers)
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Tags: Bill Luth, COVID-19, Jared, kay, Leah Meirovich, Rapaport News, Signet, Signet Jewelers, zales
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