Card Factory saw total and like-for-like sales inch up in its first quarter, which it said represented an “encouraging start to the year”.

The greetings cards and gifts specialist posted group sales growth of 6.4% and a 2.3% uptick in like-for-like sales in its trading update for the quarter ending April 30, 2019.

The retailer said this was a good start to the year, that “in part reflects the weakness in the comparator period”.

Card Factory’s website also “had a good start to the year”, with the retailer noting it posted “continued revenue growth, driven by the success of new ranges and designs”.

The greetings card specialist said it opened 14 new stores net during this period, compared to 10 the previous year. The new stores brought Card Factory’s total store estate to 979 across the UK and Ireland.

However, the retailer was less positive about the trading performance of personalised card and gifts business Getting Personal, which “continued to be impacted by a market environment of heavy discounting and increasing customer acquisition costs”.

Card Factory’s profit expectations for the year were unchanged.

Chief executive Karen Hubbard said: “We have had a positive start to the year with like-for-like sales growth despite challenging consumer sentiment and negative footfall on the high street. We have seen a good customer reaction to our seasonal card ranges over the quarter, with yet again record card sales in volumes and value for both Valentine’s day and mother’s day.

”We continue to improve the range and quality of card and non-card options. Our store opening programme remains on track and we are pleased with the performance of recent openings.

“Overall, Card Factory remains in a strong position, continuing to grow market share, with lessening cost headwinds and a platform for medium term growth.”