Board promises to get better soon
Clinton Cards has warned that supplier problems mean its Birthdays chain will not achieve profitability on an operating level before the crucial Christmas trading period. The Clinton Cards chain is also unlikely to reach market expectation on operating profits.

The group said that like other retailers feeling the pinch on the high street, like-for-like sales at Clinton Cards stores were down 1.9 per cent for the 24 weeks to July 17. Like-for-like sales at Birthdays, acquired in December last year, shrank by 1.7 per cent, although this an improvement on the 2.3 per cent deficit racked up in the first 16 weeks of the financial year. New product ranges failed to come through on time, hitting Birthdays' trading.

Clinton's distribution network is being rationalised, with Birthdays' distribution centre at Bury in Greater Manchester expected to close early next year. The retailer will instead deliver direct to stores. The closure of 40 shops across both fascias is also slated for the next few months.

With Christmas being the retailer's most profitable trading period, it has decided to move its year-end to July next year, making the current financial year stretch to 18 months.

Seymour Pierce analyst Rhys Williams cut his forecast for year-end profit before tax for the group from£31 million to£24 million. He said: 'With trading conditions remaining challenging, the Birthdays acquisition proving more difficult than first imagined and profit forecasts coming back significantly, there must now be a significant management credibility issue.'