Greetings cards retailer Clinton Cards generated a 3% increase in profits last year but has found trading tough in recent weeks, particularly in Ireland.
In the 10 weeks to October 10 group like for likes fell 2.9% and 3.9% at its eponymous business. Like-for-likes rose 5.4% at its Birthdays UK arm, but slumped 15.5% at its Birthdays Eire business, the future of which is under review.
Managing director Clinton Lewin said the economic situation is “probably even worse” in Ireland than the UK, and that the retailer is still “looking at all the options we have”, which include exiting the country.
Group adjusted operating profits came in at £16.2m in the 52 weeks to August 1.
In the year like-for-likes at the Clinton brand rose 0.7%, despite “weakening footfall in the last quarter”, across its 622 shops.
Total revenue rose from £345.2m to £400m. Lewin said margins were maintained after a lot of “arm-wrestling with the supply chain”.
He maintained: “It’s tough out there on the high street. But as we come into the Christmas period we are set up nicely with our ranges.”
The retailer outlined plans for an overhaul of the Clinton brand (Retail Week, April 1) and said it would be “completely updating the look and feel of the Clinton stores”.
Numis analyst Andy Wade said the results were “marginally ahead of expectations”. He noted the “encouraging net debt reduction and the opportunity from rebranding and ecommerce initiatives”.