Signet to Buy Blue Nile in $360M Deal
The jewelry giant said the acquisition will allow it to tap into a pool of customers who are younger, more affluent and ethnically diverse.
The jewelry giant announced Tuesday morning that it has signed a definitive agreement to buy Blue Nile Inc. for $360 million in cash.
The Seattle-based retailer, which was founded in 1999 and was an early disruptive force in fine jewelry e-commerce, recorded sales of more than $500 million in calendar year 2021, Signet said. (National Jeweler’s estimates put Blue Nile’s 2021 sales at $741.1 million, making it No. 10 on the most recent list of $100 Million Supersellers.)
The company started as an online-only retailer but has cultivated a physical footprint over the years, opening a total of 22 “asset light” showrooms, small stores where customers can try on jewelry but still buy through the website.
Two private equity firms took Blue Nile private in 2017 but it was set to become a public company again in a deal expected to close in the fourth quarter, trading independently on the NASDAQ.
Signet said it sees the acquisition as a way to expand its bridal offerings and digital capabilities while also growing what it refers to as its “Accessible Luxury” portfolio, with Blue Nile joining Jared, James Allen and recently acquired Diamonds Direct.
Buying Blue Nile also brings the jeweler an “attractive” customer demographic that is younger, more affluent and ethnically diverse, Signet said.
“Blue Nile is a pioneer and innovator in online engagement rings and fine jewelry, providing a unique and highly desirable shopping experience for customers,” Signet CEO Virginia Drosos said.
“Adding Blue Nile to our strong and diversified portfolio of banners will further drive our ‘Inspiring Brilliance’ growth strategy—expanding customer choice, building new capabilities, and achieving meaningful operating synergies that will increase value for both our consumers and shareholders.”
The purchase of Blue Nile is the latest in a string of acquisitions for Signet.
The jeweler, which is the largest in North America in terms of both sales and store count by a wide margin, bought subscription service Rocksbox in April 2021 and followed up with the $490 million all-cash purchase of Charlotte, North Carolina-based chain Diamonds Direct that October.
At the same it released the Blue Nile news, Signet announced that it is downgrading its outlook for the fiscal year, which is an unusual move, noted industry analyst Paul Zimnisky.
Strange times, re: Signet $SIG, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a company announce an acquisition and cut guidance in the same release— Paul Zimnisky, CFA (@paulzimnisky) August 9, 2022
“We saw sales soften in July as our customers have been increasingly impacted by rapid inflation, so we’re revising guidance to align with these trends,” Drosos said, a trend particularly noticeable with higher price point items.
Drosos said the revised guidance is still about 25 percent higher than the annual revenue Signet recorded in FY20, pre-pandemic.
She added the company’s transformed operating model and strong balance sheet give it “dry powder,” even in a down market, to invest in expansion among its banners and with the acquisition of Blue Nile.
The retailer noted that its revised outlook for the fiscal year does not account for potential worsening of the macroeconomic environment or the pending acquisition of Blue Nile.
It is currently expected to close in the third quarter of Signet’s current fiscal year. (Signet’s fiscal year runs from the beginning of February through the end of January. The company is currently in fiscal year 2023.)
The companies made regulatory filings regarding the transaction in July and the applicable waiting period has passed but the transaction is still subject to other customary closing conditions.
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