Clinton Cards has reported a 28.8% increase in interim profits, on the back of group sales up 20.8%, driven by the re-acquisition of the Birthdays business.

Group pre-tax profits for the 26 weeks to January 31 were £19.6m, with group sales totalling £226m. The main Clinton brand produced a 2.1% increase in sales to £191.1m from 20 fewer stores in the period, with like for likes up 3%.

Birthdays, which was bought back last June and not included in the comparable period last year, produced sales of £35m from 186 stores, which include 24 Pure Party stores. Birthdays produced an operating profit of just over £1m.

Clinton Cards described the performance as “very encouraging” but described sales since the start of the second half as “more subdued”. It said it continues to review its property portfolio to ensure locations have the right mix of the fascias owned by the group.