Card Factory is looking to expand in seven international markets and has announced its partnership with Middle East-based Liwa Trading Enterprises, which will act as its exclusive franchise partner in the region. 

The greeting cards retailer is set to open 36 stores in the Middle East as a part of the partnership.

Card Factory said it was looking to create more partnerships and alliances as it plans to scale its business overseas.

Card Factory chief executive Darcy Willson-Rymer said: “Internationally, we want to grow using partnerships that are capital-light but also use the expertise of others from the market to do it; for example, our partnership in the Middle East. 

“Over the long term, we have identified seven markets that we would like to go to. As we build out our knowledge and infrastructure to do that we are starting with markets that are mid-to-low complexity building up to the more complex markets over time.” 

The business recently acquired the South African greetings cards and gift packaging wholesaler SA Greetings for £2.5m. The retailer said the acquisition supports its expansion plans in South Africa as it gives “access to key wholesale accounts through the company’s printing, merchandising and warehousing capacity”.  

Willson-Rymer added: “South Africa gives us a foothold into both stores and the wholesale market. It’s a really good test bed for us for the things that we would like to do internationally. SA Greetings has manufacturing, merchandising and it services a majority of the supermarkets that are already in South Africa and has 28 retail stores.”

Card Factory has 750 stores in the UK but Wilson-Rymer said it plans to reach 1,100 in the long term with a focus on “underpenetrated” areas such as Ireland and central London as well as to “optimise” the estate as customer footfall patterns change.

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