Clinton Cards has reported a marked improvement in second half like-for-like sales after reducing borrowings and ditching its loss-making Birthdays business.

For the year ending August 2, Clinton Cards reported a slight increase in pre-tax profit to £24.1m, up from £22m the year before. Like-for-like sales improved in the second half with flat like-for-likes, meaning overall for the year the retailer was down by 3.3%. Like-for-like sales continued to improve in the current year, up 2.9% in the first 10 weeks.

The card retailer adjusted its cost base to implement cost savings of £2.4m for the year. It also renegotiated its banking facilities to January 2012 and placed the Birthdays chain into administration. It then bought 196 of the 332 stores out of administration.

Chairman Don Lewin said: “It was a tough trading year but I am pleased to report that we have achieved a good recovery in second half like for like sales. We took action to cut costs and address the loss making Birthdays business and we have worked hard to reduce our bank borrowings. The rejuvenation of the Birthdays stores is going to plan and our Clinton stores are showing 2.9% growth in like for like sales in the first 10 weeks of the current year. We now look forward to the very important Christmas trading period.”

The retailer said it remains committed to a two brand strategy for the core operation, and is also operating 15 Pure Party shops within Birthdays, selling party products, and has also launched an online shop for the business,