Clinton Cards suffers 83% loss

Specialist greetings card retailer Clinton Cards has suffered an 83 per cent loss in year end profit, putting the slump down to a combination of low consumer confidence and competition from both the internet and supermarkets.

The group ended the financial period trading from 596 Clinton Cards stores and 127 Birthdays outlets, employing about 8,350 staff in total.

In the year end to July 31 the group posted an adjusted operating profit of £3.2m, down sharply from £18.8m the previous year. Revenues fell 7.6 per cent to £364.2m, or 2.9 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

The loss before tax of £10.7m compares dramatically with a £12m profit the previous year. Loss per share was 2.25p compared to a profit of 5.28p for the 52 weeks to 1 August 2010.

Like-for-like sales fell by 3.4 per cent in the Clinton Cards chain, while the Birthdays chain rebounded slightly with a 0.4 per cent increase. In the first 12 weeks of the new financial year, like-for-like sales across the group were downy by 1.5 per cent compared with last year. The company has extended its £55 million debt facility with Barclays and RBS to July 2013.

New chief executive Darcy Wilson-Rymer – formerly of Starbucks – has begun a strategic review that focuses on improved customer experience, the store portfolio, supply chain management and the digital offering.

Chairman and founder Don Lewin said there was “a shared recognition across the Group of the need to respond to the challenges of having a visible high street presence and a resilient business model if we are to return to a period of sustained performance. In the coming months we will outline in more detail the outcome of the strategic review being led by Darcy Willson-Rymer and the journey that lies ahead.”