Clinton Cards wants to keep the Birthdays brand alive by buying back up to 150 stores, following its collapse into administration.
The greetings card retailer would retain the Birthdays fascia and run the business from the Clinton head office in Loughton, Essex.
Clinton group services director Barry Hartog said Clinton is keen to buy back the profitable stores, of which there are about 150 out of a total of 332. This would take Clinton’s portfolio to nearly 850.
Hartog said there is “room for growth” in the group but added that “the bottom line is more important than store numbers”. He said a clearer picture would emerge in two to three weeks once Clinton had presented its offer to administrator Zolfo Cooper.
Other interested parties are thought to include private equity firm Endless, which last week bought bookseller British Bookshops and Stationers and is believed to be on the hunt for more retail acquisitions. It also owns discount book chain The Works.
Birthdays’ rival Card Factory is also thought to be interested. It bought 76 stores from Celebrations in December after Celebrations fell into administration.
Clinton placed Birthdays into administration because half its portfolio was loss-making. The stores continue to trade while Zolfo Cooper seeks to sell the business as a going concern.
Zolfo Cooper partner Peter Saville said: “We remain hopeful of securing the future of the business despite the harsh trading environment being experienced by all retailers at present.”
Clinton said last week that a solvent restructuring of Birthdays was “not considered to represent a viable solution” and it therefore “acted to protect the stable core Clinton business as well as its shareholders, staff and suppliers” by placing the chain into administration.