Signet Jewelers (NYSE:SIG) said hundreds of stores that operate under the Zales, Jared, and Kay Jeweler banners in the U.S. and the U.K. will not reopen while hundreds of others, many in shopping malls, will also be shut down.

The closures will reduce the jewelry store operator's footprint by 20% as part of its Path to Brilliance reorganization strategy.

Man polishing a diamond ring

Image source: Getty Images.

They didn't go to Jared

The retailer's stores have long been a fixture of the shopping mall, but several years ago Signet began reducing its presence in Class D malls, lower-tier malls where tenants generate fewer sales per square foot and have high numbers of vacancies.

During Signet's first-quarter earnings conference call with analysts yesterday, CEO Virginia Drosos said the current economic climate now has it looking to further reduce its exposure to Class B and C malls, too.

Signet has 3,200 stores worldwide, of which 2,800 are in North America and were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Signet will keep 150 stores in the U.S. and 80 stores in the U.K. closed. It will close another 150 stores later this year.

Drosos said Signet is also negotiating with the landlords of its remaining stores for concessions on rent payments and "go forward occupancy costs."

A number of retailers, including Gap and L Brands launched a rent strike during the pandemic, refusing to pay their rents while their stores were closed. Mall operator Simon Property Group is suing Gap for the overdue rent.

Signet Jewelers said sales fell over 40% in the first quarter, hitting $852 million. So far it has reopened approximately 1,100 stores.