Card Factory has revealed rising like-for-likes in its first quarter and confirmed plans to trial stores in Ireland later this year.
The value card specialist’s underlying group sales rose 6.1% in the three months to April 30, after accounting for the impact of last year’s leap year.
It hailed “a pleasing improvement” on the rate of growth of 4.3% it delivered in its recent full-year.
The retailer also reported like-for-like sales at the upper end of its targeted range of 1% to 3%.
Card Factory, which currently operates from 876 stores, said it is on track to deliver its target of 50 new stores in its current financial year, and opened 11 during the quarter.
It intends to increase the number of stores it has in retail parks, and said plans enter the Republic of Ireland are “progressing well”.
“We anticipate opening a small number of trial stores later this year in addition to our normal 50 net new stores in the UK,” the retailer confirmed.
The retailer said its Card Factory website “continues to grow, albeit from a small base”.
Having expanded and improved its online ranges, both personalised and non-personalised, it is targeting a significant increase in its share of this “attractive segment of the market”.
It added that trading at its Getting Personal site has started to improve following the recruitment of a new senior team.
Card Factory has hired Kris Lee to replace its chief financial officer Darren Bryant, who is retiring after eight years with the retailer.
Lee will assume the role of chief financial officer on July 31 following a handover period.
Card Factory chief executive Karen Hubbard said: “We have had a good start to the year with like-for-like store sales at the upper end of our targeted range.
“Our store opening programme remains on track and we are pleased with the performance of this year’s openings, including strong initial sales from the increased proportion of openings in retail parks.
“Overall, Card Factory remains in a really strong position with a significant number of additional opportunities to further improve the business in the months and years ahead.”
The group said it remains highly cash generative and the board’s expectations for the full financial year are unchanged.