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Clash of jewelry chains comes to the Mall

            The clash of the jewelry titans has come to Statesboro. With the opening this past Friday of Kay Jewelers in the Statesboro Mall, two of the three largest jewelry chains in the country now have stores here. The other titan is Friedman's Jewelers which also has a corner "slot" inside of the Mall.

            Kay Jewelers is owned by the British company, Signet Group plc (NYSE: SIG [ADR]) which is the world's largest jewelry retailer and the proud owner of the immensely effective advertising campaign - "Every kiss begins with Kay" (or a Lexus for some people). The Signet Group's United States subsidiary is Sterling Jewelers which has 1,200 stores in this country including 780 Kay Jewelers stores.

            You might think to yourself, those are pretty formidable numbers. Well, maybe not to Friedman's Jewelers. You see Friedman's is the number three jewelry store chain in the country with over 420 stores in 20 states. The second largest chain is Zales.

            Friedman's (NASDAQ: FRDM) corporate literature states that they are the "largest specialty retailer of jewelry in their market of 23 southeastern, southwestern and mid-western states." Kay Jewelers is bigger overall, and Friedman's is bigger in a region of the country which just so happens to be ours.  Oh, the spin of it all.

            Some of you may be wondering just what happened to the other jewelry store in the Mall, Regency Jewelers. They are now closed lock, stock, and barrel. Where did they go? The answer lies with their parent company, Friedman's jewelers. That's right, Friedman's had two stores in the Statesboro Mall.

            They are now down to one store, and their big competitor is staring them in the "eye" every day. I say, the winners in all of this should be the consumer assuming both chains are targeting the same clientele.

            According to Hoovers, a business information service owned by Dun and Bradstreet, Friedman's caters primarily to low-to middle-income consumers between the ages of 18 and 45. Kay's target market is not so clear. Neither chain would comment when approached.

            With jewelry being sold at neighboring Belk's, and J.C. Penney, and Wal-Mart, it will be interesting to see how things shake out. If the crowd of shoppers in Kay Jewelers this past Friday is any indication, then I dare say, the game is on.

            Until next week (or tonight if you are a blogger), I bid you au revoir.

            Got a scoop for Jan? Call her at (912) 489-9463 or e-mail her at jmoore@statesboroherald.net

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