Poor second half on the Cards for Clinton

The greetings card retailer has just announced a pretax loss of £3.7m for the first half. And things aren't looking good for the coming months either...

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

It's more a case of 'Get well soon' than 'Congratulations' for Clinton Cards. The high street retailer's results for the 26 weeks to January 29 show a 4.5% drop in revenue to £197.1m. Sales at stores open more than a year are down 1.1%. And margins have been shredded as the firm introduced massive discounts to clear old stock.

Clinton Cards has faced huge competition from the supermarkets and online players like Moonpig, which have significantly eaten into the firm's market share. Having posted profits of £11.7m in the first half last year, Clinton Cards has now revealed a pre-tax loss of £3.7m. Hardly something to write home about.

The group has also warned that it has revised down its second half expectations. But this could just be a precautionary move. So far, like-for-like sales are actually up, growing 11.8% in the first eight weeks of the second half. But this increase was mainly brought about by the card-buying bonanza that is Mother's Day, says the company. A date that usually falls in the first half figures (it was two weeks later this year). So, after adjusting for the timing of Mother's Day, the underlying trend is down 4%.

Still, all is not lost. The company parachuted in new CEO Darcy Willson-Rymer last October and, if industry gossip is to be believed, the ex-Starbucks exec is shaking things up at the company. Clinton Cards, which runs 628 eponymous stores and 139 Birthdays outlets, reckons that its strategic review will be completed by the end of April. According to Willson-Rymer, Clinton Cards will be reaping the benefits of his tweaks by July.

Do you think he'll pull it out the (post) bag? Answers in a singing card, please...

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