• Card Factory sales rose 4.8% to £169m in the six months to July 31
  • Underlying pre-tax profit grew 7.3% to £27.6m
  • Like-for-like sales growth slowed to 0.2%, compared with 2.8% in the first half of the previous year

Card Factory has posted a rise in half-year profits and sales but claimed softer footfall resulted in “lower than normal” revenue growth.

The value greetings card specialist reported a 7.3% increase in pre-tax profits to £27.6m in the six months to July 31. Sales rose 4.7% during the period.

However, like-for-likes were flat at 0.2%, compared with a 2.8% increase in last year’s first half.

The retailer attributed this to “softer footfall” resulting in “lower than normal” sales growth from stores.

Card Factory chief executive Karen Hubbard, who took the reins earlier this year following the departure of Richard Hayes, said: “We have delivered a solid set of interim results with further growth in both revenue and profit, albeit with softer footfall resulting in slightly lower than normal sales growth from our stores.

“We remain the clear leaders in our market. The potential for further growth – through like-for-like sales growth, further store roll-out and the full exploitation of our online channels – is exciting.”

New stores

During the period, Card Factory opened 34 new stores, bringing the total estate to 848.

It has opened a further six stores since then and said it is on track to deliver approximately 50 new openings by the end of the year. Card Factory remains confident of achieving its 1,200 store target.

Hubbard told Retail Week that Card Factory’s stores on retail parks, which make up around 10% of the retailer’s total estate, were working “particularly well” as more parks made smaller-sized units available.

Sales at its personalised cards site – Gettingpersonal.co.uk – were flat, while transactional sales at Card Factory’s website grew by around 300%. The retailer said today that the two sites would now operate as separate businesses.

Looking ahead

On recent trading, Hubbard said: “Trading in recent weeks has been similar to the trends seen in the first half, with encouraging continued growth in average spend.

“We approach the important final quarter with confidence in the quality and value of our offer, including our new Christmas ranges, and remain confident of delivering full-year underlying profit before tax within the range of expectations.”

In an interview following the results, Hubbard said her first six months in the job has gone smoothly, and that number one on her agenda was to have a “fabulous Christmas”.

She said: “Whatever the economic environment throws at us, the challenge of the team is to make sure that when customers cross our threshold we have a great range of products, both card and non-card, to service their needs.

“We are really delighted with the Christmas ranges. If we have fewer people on the high street we want to ensure they come into our stores and we have our top ranges available in store.”

Hubbard said this included its popular humour cards, which will now be made available in all stores.