Clinton Cards has paid back debt early after generating sales growth over Christmas.

The retailer, which hit problems last year when it had to put its Birthdays chain into administration, notched up like-for-like growth of 3.6% in the five weeks to January 3 and 3.5% over the 22 weeks to that date.

The performance of Birthdays is improving, Clinton reported, after supply chain problems were sorted out.

Clintonsaid it repaid a final £12m instalment of loan debt yesterday, ahead of schedule, and it continues to prioritise the reduction of working capital debt.

Chairman Don Lewin said: “We have performed well during the crucial Christmas period, despite the adverse weather conditions affecting many of our stores.

“We expect 2010 to be another tough year but we are well placed to meet the challenges.”

Analyst Nick Coulter of house broker Numis described the performance as solid.