High street cards stacked against Clinton

The greetings retailer issues a profits warning, while JJB and Primark see sales rise.

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

It looks like Clinton Cards has found itself somewhat short of a full deck: the greeting cards retailer has been forced to perform an embarrassing u-turn, issuing a profits warning just three months after it told investors it was having an ‘encouraging’ first half of the year.

The firm said sales are expected to be about 2% below forecast because of ‘disproportionately poor performance in Ireland’ – the 13 stores there have lost £1m between them. We knew the recession was tough in the Emerald lsle of course, but the economy must really be in a parlous state if even birthday cards are starting to look like a luxury purchase.

Fortunately, though, it’s a different story elsewhere on the high street: both Primark and turbulent sports retailer JJB have announced positive results, with sales up 17% and 22.3% respectively.

Back in March, Clinton said performance in its 860 UK stores had been ‘encouraging’, allowing analysts to upgrade its profit forecasts to £16m from £13.7m, rising to £18m the following year. Now that’s all changes thanks to those Irish losses.

This latest setback is undoubtedly going to be a bit of a blow for Clinton, and strong competition from the likes of Moonpig.com, which allows its users to send customised cards via the web won’t help.

While Clinton licks its wounds, clothing retailers JJB Sports and Primark have both reported positive results. England’s football team and tennis players may have disappointed this summer, but at least its sports retailers are doing well: JJB reported like-for-like sales growth of 22.3% in the six weeks to July 4, with profit margins during the same period increasing by 43.9%.

And the flight to value shows no signs of stalling, if Primark’s sales are anything to go by - 17% growth in the 40 weeks to June 19 is pretty respectable these days.

Perhaps these two star performers could help out their less fortunate high street oppo by buying congratulations cards and balloons to say thanks to all their staff for such a sterling effort?


In today's bulletin:

Interest rates held at record low for another month    
BP faces racketeering prosecution threat
High street cards stacked against Clinton
We're all going on a (very short) summer holiday
Letters from Malawi: getting behind the wheel

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