Signet Group Plc said on Thursday that its sales dropped 2.5 per cent in the 13 weeks to 3 May 2008.

Signet, the world's largest retail jeweller, had its first quarter results dragged down by a poor performance in the US, where like for like sales dropped 4.7 per cent to $630.9 million.

The group's US operations account for around three quarters of its total sales. The UK H.Samuel stores, which represent the remaining quarter of group sales, saw like for like sales rise 5.3 per cent to $191.4 million.

Terry Burman, group chief executive, said, US like for like sales were down 4.7%, reflecting a difficult trading environment partly offset by better weather over Valentine's Day. The results from the price increases implemented in the US in February and March remain encouraging, although a full evaluation will only be completed in the summer. In the UK, like for like sales rose by 5.3%, with both H.Samuel and Ernest Jones outperforming the UK retail sector in a demanding marketplace.