Clinton Cards has said it is cautious on the economic environment as like-for-likes slip in the first ten weeks of its financial year.

For the 10 weeks to October 10, like-for-likes declined for the Clinton brand by 3.9%, Birthdays Eire by 15.5% while Birthdays UK increased by 5.4%. This resulted in total group like-for-like sales down 2.9%.

Chairman Don Lewin said: “We believe the initiatives we have undertaken will leverage the Clinton brand and provide a solid foundation for the long term. However, in the near term, whilst we are confident with our product proposition, we remain cautious about the economic climate and its effect on consumer spending ahead of the important Christmas trading period.”

For the year to August 1, group adjusted operating profits increased by 3.8% to £16.2m. Net debt at year end reduced by 28.4% to £35.8m. Sales for the year were £400m, up from £345.2m the previous year.

Like-for-like sales for the full year increased by 0.7%.

The cards specialist said the restructuring of Birthdays has been completed, and a branding exercise has been undertaken which will result in a redesign of the Clinton stores.

In January, Clinton Cards will launch a new website featuring an advanced card and gift personalisation service which we are confident will significantly enhance our online business. This will be supported by a marketing campaign.

It has also recently begun a social media drive, which it said has given it a “great opportunity to communicate with both staff and customers”.