UPDATE: Greetings card specialist Clinton Cards has put its struggling Birthdays chain up for sale.

Clintons has hired Ernst & Young to advise on the sale of the 141 store chain, according to The Independent.

Birthdays made a £8.6m loss in its 2010/11 financial year.

The retailer has been shrinking the loss-making chain, which it bought out of administration in 2009. Last year it liquidated the Republic of Ireland operation.

New chief executive, Darcy Willson-Rymer, who joined the group in October, is currently undergoing a strategic review of the Clintons business which is schedule to complete in late April.

Ernst & Young is set to send out an information memorandum on Birthdays in the coming days.

Referring to Willson-Rymer’s strategic review, a Clintons spokesman said: “This is critical for the successful turnaround of the business and by necessity looks at every part of the group, including both Clintons and Birthdays. At this time, we are reviewing all options for all parts of the business and do not foresee announcing any decisions before the results of the strategic review.”

Like-for-like at Birthdays dropped by 2.7% over the five weeks to 1 January compared to a 0.8% rise at Clintons. Clinton Cards posted an adjusted operating profit at group level of £3.2m in the year to July 31, steeply down from £18.8m the previous year.