Greetings card retailer Clintons has revealed its founder and non-executive chairman Don Lewis is to step down from the company in July.

The news comes as the retailer revealed a first half pretax loss of £3.7m compared to a profit of £11.7m in the corresponding period.

Adjusted operating profit plummeted from £14.4m to £743,00 in the 26 weeks to January 29.

Lewin said the changes to the management team “are part of a programme of changes being made following the appointment of Darcy Willson-Rymer as chief executive in October 2011. 

“The board changes are supported by executive changes as we increase capability and expertise to drive our transformation.”

The retailer said its strategic review under Willson-Rymer is on track for completion in April, and has resulted in store closures as well as a 15% reduction in head count at head office.

Clintons operating profit came in at £3.6m. However Birthdays dragged down the group, reporting a loss of £2.8m. It is understood Clintons is seeking a sale of the business.

Group like-for-likes fell 1.1%, with Clintons down 1% and Birthdays down 2%.

In the 8 weeks since the period end, group like-for-like grew 11.8%, but the retailer said that the growth was down to Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day falling in the period. Both events fell outside of last year’s comparable period.

After adjusting for the timing of Mother’s Day, underlying like-for-likes fell 4% in the 8 week period.

The retailer reported “significantly weaker margins” as a result of clearing old stock in the January.

Total revenue from the Clinton brand in the six month period fell from £178.3m to £171.7m.

Willson-Rymer said: “All elements of the business are being reviewed to ensure it is fit for purpose, with a single-minded focus on the customer.”

Clintons said its head office restructure brings “new skills and capabilities into the business”.

The retailer said the “first steps” towards restructuring its store portfolio are underway. It closed 17 shops, bringing the total to 628.

“The long-term store portfolio strategy is being determined as part of the strategic review,” the retailer said.

It has also moved 60% of its store base onto monthly rents.

Willson-Rymer said:  “This has been a challenging period in a difficult retail environment, dominated by weak consumer confidence. 

“Since joining Clintons last year I have embarked on a journey of change, with a single-minded focus on the customer. 

“With the store portfolio undergoing significant restructuring and the management team and the Board strengthened, the business now has the ability to be stronger. 

“However, the legacy of the business cycle means that significant impact will only begin to come through from the end of the second half of the financial year.

 “The strategic review - which examines the customer experience, the store portfolio, business efficiency, and the digital offering - is on target for completion at the end of April.

 “The outlook for the second half of the current year is below our previous expectations but the changes we are undertaking to the business will deliver significant benefits in future years.”

Sarah Morris, previously head of merchandising for John Lewis, joins as group trading director while John Wrighthouse has been hired as group HR Director. He held the same job at Nationwide Building Society previously.

Former Game multichannel boss Dave Hughes has joined a non-executive director.

Other management changes include John Robinson resigning as group buying director while property director Stuart Houlston will step down from the Board with effect from March 31 but will remain with the business.