Card Factory has stemmed the decline in its like-for-like sales in its third quarter as it ploughs ahead with its store expansion programme.

The specialist retailer recorded a 3.4% boost in revenue in the nine months to October 31.

Like-for-likes were broadly flat in the year to date, although store like-for-likes declined 0.5% in the nine months of its current financial year, despite like-for-likes in its third quarter edging up 0.1%.

Online sales increased 47.3% in the third quarter, driving up revenue across its ecommerce division 71% in the nine months.

Card Factory opened 41 new UK stores in the year to date, 16 of which were opened in its third quarter, and is on track to open a total of 50 in the full financial year.

The retailer has a 963-strong store estate overall, including seven trial stores in the Republic of Ireland.

The specialist retailer’s underlying EBITDA expectation for its current financial year remains in the range of £89m to £91m.

Chief executive Karen Hubbard said: “Despite the continuation of challenging high street trading conditions, we delivered positive like-for-like sales in the third quarter, marking a slight improvement on the like-for-like performance seen in the first half.

“The business faces reduced, but ongoing, external cost pressures such as national living wage and foreign-exchange-related input cost increases; the latter is expected to ease in the 2020 financial year. We remain focused on mitigating these headwinds with our ongoing programme of business efficiencies.

“Given our new ranges and our seasonal performance to date, we approach our Christmas trading period with confidence. We also remain positive about the growth prospects for the business over the medium term.”