Card Factory has registered an increase in half-year profits as it grew sales amid what it dubbed a “challenging consumer environment”.

The greetings card specialist said pre-tax profit jumped 17.2% to £27.2m in the six months to July 31.

Group sales advanced 3.2% to £185.3m, but growth was driven by new store openings, as like-for-like sales slipped 0.2%.

The retailer said store sales were impacted by “lower high street footfall in a weak consumer environment”.

In contrast, the Card Factory website enjoyed an 85% surge in sales and is “on course to be profitable this year”.

Card Factory maintained its profit guidance for the full year. It expects to deliver underlying EBITDA of between £89m and £91m.

Underlying EBITDA during its first half came in at £29.9m, an 8.9% drop on the previous year.

Card Factory said it was engaging in a number of trials designed to “extend” its market penetration.

It said “one small trial” was under way with a retail partner selling Card Factory branded cards.

The business is also exploring opening franchise stores and has launched two concessions, with four more currently being fitted out. It provided no detail on where the concessions had opened.

Card Factory boss Karen Hubbard hailed the “solid” results, “despite the weak consumer environment and particularly challenging footfall across the high street”. 

Hubbard added: “Despite this difficult consumer backdrop, we have seen record numbers for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day both in terms of volume and value. This strong seasonal performance gives us confidence for the key Christmas trading period.”

However, she warned that trading since the period end had “remained challenging”, but reaffirmed the board’s confidence in Card Factory’s ability to “make further strategic progress”.