Cards group Clinton intends to maintain an interest in Birthdays, despite placing the chain into administration.
Clinton group services director Barry Hartog told Retail Week that there are “still a number of stores that are really good viable businesses and we’re interested in those.”
Clinton appointed Zolfo Cooper administrator this morning after conceding that it could no longer support the failing Birthdays brand. Out of the 332 Birthdays stores, about 50 per cent are making a loss.
“There are too many loss-making stores,” said Hartog. “Clinton as a business can’t continue to fund it [Birthdays] indefinitely in the current economic climate.”
Zolfo Cooper will now begin looking into ways to restructure Birthdays.
Hartog would not reveal how many Birthdays stores Clinton is likely to keep hold of, but said that a clearer picture would be likely to emerge “in a matter of weeks”.
The eponymous Clinton Cards chain is unaffected and all Birthdays stores, employing about 2,100 people, will continue to trade as normal while the administrators seek way forward.
The retailer said a solvent restructuring of Birthdays was “not considered to represent a viable solution” and it therefore “acted to protect the stable core Clinton business as well as its shareholders, staff and suppliers”.
Prior to placing Birthdays in administration, Clinton consulted with the group’s banks who confirmed their contuinuing support.
Clinton bought Birthdays in 2004 and the chain has incurred losses ever since.
Clinton Cards chairman Don Lewin said: “Everyone at Birthdays has worked tirelessly to try and turn the business around. Nevertheless in the current environment the group cannot sustain supporting losses of approximately £7m a year at Birthdays.
“It is my genuine belief that there is a significant element of the Birthdays’ business that will have a profitable and sustainable future.
“It is sad that we have reached this position but this action will be earnings enhancing for Clinton and I have every confidence in the future of our business.”
Clinton also gave a trading update, revealing that like-for-likes across the group remained flat in the 13 week period to May 3, 2009. There was a 0.6 per cent decline at the Clinton stores and a 2.3 per cent increase at Birthdays.