Greetings card retailer Clinton Cards like-for-likes edged up 0.4% in the five weeks to January 1 as a “renewed focus on the right customer offer and improved service” paid off.

At the Clintons fascia like-for-likes grew 0.8% over the Christmas period, while falling 2.7% at its Birthdays fascia.

Chief executive Darcy Willson-Rymer has begun a strategic review of the business since joining the business in October. The review is due to be completed in the second quarter of this year.

Willson-Rymer is reviewing the customer experience, the store portfolio, business efficiency, and the digital offering.

Willson-Rymer said: “Since I joined Clintons, we have had a single-minded focus on the customer.

“Our Christmas trading update recognises the positive impact of this approach. Going forward, there is clearly more work to be done and I am looking at this within my strategic review. Despite a tough retail climate, we remain in line with the Board’s expectations.”

Simon Chinn, lead consultant at Conlumino, said: “While Clintons has managed to secure some growth, the pace of the uplift is anaemic, especially when set against a 2% decline in like-for-likes sales over the same period last year. Moreover, as Clintons has closed stores over the past year total group sales are likely to be in negative territory.”

He said it is “too early to say whether this mildly positive result is a consequence of the changes made to date, or a merely driven by a very weak comparative last year”.

He added: “However, longer term we believe Clintons has a lot more work to do, especially on the digital and online aspects of their proposition.”