Michael Hill International, the jewellery retailer founded by its namesake, lifted sales 7.8 per cent in the first quarter as its performance in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada continued to improve, making up for a dip in US revenue.

Group sales from all stores rose to A$130.3 million (NZ$143.2m) in the three months to September 30, from A$120.9m in the same quarter in 2016. Same-store sales grew 3.5 per cent to A$122.7m in the three months.

Michael Hill same-store sales rose 3.8 per cent to A$120.3m in the first quarter, while Emma & Roe same-store sales dropped 12 per cent to A$2.4m. Total store sales for the Michael Hill chain increased 7.4 per cent to A$126.9m in the quarter, while Emma & Roe total sales jumped 27 per cent to A$3.5m in the period.

In the latest financial year, the jewellery company boosted annual profit by two thirds as its Michael Hill chain grew steadily in its main markets of Australia and New Zealand and recorded stronger growth in Canada. Still, its troubled US business and its fledgeling Emma & Roe chain posted wider losses.

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In the first quarter of 2018, the Michael Hill brand traded well in Canada, up 7.6 per cent in same-store sales in local currency in the quarter with total store sales growth of 22 per cent to C$26.6m dollars. Same-store and total sales for the brand also rose in New Zealand and Australia, but in the US same-store sales dropped 9 per cent to US$2.6m while total sales fell 15 per cent.

There were 313 Michael Hill stores trading at the end of September, with 10 opened in the period. Three opened in Australia with a further three planned for the December quarter; one opened in New Zealand; six opened in Canada, and another will open in this quarter, with the company looking for "high quality sites" to determine future openings there.

Emma & Roe had 30 stores at the end of the quarter, with one having opened in the period, and is the final stages of a brand review, the company said. In its annual results, the company said losses from the brand had exceeded expectations and it would likely adjust the brand, which sells charm bracelets and accessories, in the current financial year.

Dual-listed Michael Hill shares gained 2.5 per cent to $1.21 on the NZX, and have shed 8.5 per cent this year.