With the news that ailing greetings card retailer Clinton Cards has delayed publication of its strategic review until next month, Retail Week has put together its own thoughts on what boss Darcy Willson-Rymer will be looking at.
Clintons stores are tired and despite a new concept trialled last year which included more technology instore no further roll out of the format has been commented on. Comparing the stores to stationers and card retailers such as Paperchase and WHSmith’s Funky Pigeon, Clintons may have its work cut out to modernise and update its stuffy formats.
Clintons also needs to tighten up its product offering, making it easier for customers to find what they are looking for. Its current extensive range can be bewildering and with retailers such as Card Factory successfully offering value-led lines, it may mean that Clintons needs to find its niche as a more premium card retailer. A better gifting offer is also needed.
Better customer service will also be key to ensure Clintons can sell that special experience of buying a card, offering a more on-floor presence so shoppers can find exactly what they are looking for.
With more than 700 stores, Clintons’ store portfolio is vast and expensive, and Willson-Rymer will need to cut shops. Retail Week revealed this month it is considering a controversial company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which would allow it to shed stores.
Stores are also believed to be too large with the average shop size standing at 1,900 sq ft, compared to Card Factory’s much smaller stores.
The retailer has sought to sell its loss-making Birthdays chain without success, and has said “all options are on the table” in regards to its future. A more streamlined business would benefit Clintons, enabling it to focus on the stronger eponymous brand.
The digital offering
Although Clintons offers cards on its transactional website it will need to be more innovative to compete with predominantly online retailers such as Moonpig and Funky Pigeon. Its advantage is that it has a strong high street presence, so there is the option of ramping up its multichannel offer in-store.
Customer personalisation is becoming more important to Clinton Cards. It has introduced personalisation into its ranges already, but should be looking to extend its offer to compete with rivals.
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