Signet Jewelers Ltd. (NYSE SIG), the parent of Akron-headquartered Sterling Jewelers Inc., is expanding into the outlet center market.
Signet said Wednesday it had signed a deal to acquire jewelry retailer Ultra Stores Inc. for $57 million in cash.
Ultra Stores is based in Chicago and operates as Ultra Diamonds, primarily in factory outlet centers and licensed jewelry departments.
Ultra Stores, with more than 150 locations, was founded in 1991 in Chicago as an off-price retailer. It was hit by the recession, filing for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in 2009.
Crystal Capital of Chicago assumed majority ownership of Ultra Stores in the reorganization.
Signet’s CEO, Michael W. Barnes, said in a prepared statement issued Wednesday that the addition of Ultra Stores “will immediately result in our having a significant share of the outlet channel for jewelry.”
Signet’s U.S. division, Sterling Jewelers, operates more than 1,300 stores nationwide, including Kay Jewelers and Jared, and employs more than 2,000 people in the Akron area. Signet touts that it is the largest jewelry store operator in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Signet spokesman David Bouffard said in an email Wednesday that it is too soon to comment on the company’s specific plans for Ultra Stores, including whether its headquarters will become part of Sterling/Signet’s corporate offices in Akron.
“As the transaction has not yet closed, we do not believe it is appropriate at this time to provide additional information,” Bouffard said.
Bouffard said that as Signet enters the “all important holiday season, and then on into the Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day periods, we will be focused on closely collaborating with the Ultra team to build a winning combination of two great market leaders.”
An industry news report in Jewelers’ Circular Keystone (JCK) noted Wednesday that in 2010 Signet’s then-CEO Terry Burman indicated at an investors conference that Signet wanted to expand through acquisition.
Barnes, the current CEO at Signet, said in the statement that the company “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 said in the statement that it would not assume any debt in the acquisition.
Bouffard said the last Signet acquisition was in 2000, when the company bought the Marks & Morgan chain. It had about 140 stores.
Signet, based in Bermuda, gets more than 80 percent of its revenue in this country.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.