Card Factory has identified big growth opportunity in retail parks and in the Republic of Ireland.

The specialist retailer only has a small number of retail park branches at present, and an enthusiastic customer response has prompted it to seek more.

Card Factory has no shops in the Republic of Ireland, but demand from shoppers and market research has indicated a “significant opportunity”.

Card Factory chief executive Karen Hubbard told Retail Week that two growth avenues did not indicate that the retailer was less interested in the high-street locations which have traditionally been its heartland.

Openings on retail parks and in Ireland would play a part in its drive to reach a store target of 1,200, compared with 865 at present.

On parks, the increasing availability of smaller units has enabled growth.

Smaller units

Hubbard, who posted Card Factory’s results today, said: “In the past you couldn’t get a small unit for love nor money but they [landlords] have taken an opportunity to downsize large units.”

Karen Hubbard discusses the future of Card Factory at Retail Week Live

About 41% of the retailer’s sales come from items other than cards. Hubbard said: “The stores we’re opening on retail parks are doing really well. We tend to find that customers are buying more because of things like car-parking.”

She said that there is no target number for retail park branches but her aim is “to be where the customer is shopping”.

In Ireland, Card Factory has pinpointed 100 possible market town locations.

Hubbard said: “We’re currently evaluating what the implications are for the business [such as logistics]. Once we’ve got that we’ll put a detailed plan together. The big news is that we see the opportunity.”