Card Factory is one of the UK’s largest specialist greetings card retailers. It trades through more than 1,000 outlets throughout the UK and is pitched at the value end of the market.

Its first move online came through the acquisition of the personalised card and gift website in 2011, but the core Card Factory site is now transactional as well and the digital proposition was further improved from late 2020 with the launch of a new Card Factory app.

The retailer has completed the transition of both its online sites ( and onto a single unified platform from to unlock cost benefits and provide the ability to significantly expand the gifting range.

The retailer had been expanding at a rate of some 50 stores a year until recently, but expansion has slowed sharply since the pandemic when some planned new store openings were postponed and attention turned instead to savvy relocations. 

As well as increasing online sales, Card Factory has also been looking to partnerships with value-led retailers such as Aldi and Matalan in the UK and The Reject Shop in Australia to expand coverage and make its products more readily available for impulse purchasing.

It made its first move into South Africa in April 2023 with the £2.5m acquisition of SA Greetings. In April 2023, it signed a long-term master franchise agreement with Liwa Trading Enterprises to act as Card Factory’s exclusive franchise partner in the Middle East region, where it will open around 36 Card Factory branded stores.

Card Factory’s vertically integrated business model, which includes an in-house design team and print works, have traditinally ensured high profit margins. Although these came under pressure for a few years as the retailer battled currency headwinds and increased investment in infrastructure to support the rapid expansion programme, they returned to double-digit levels in the 2022 financial year.

For the year to end-January 2023 (FY2022) pre-tax profits surged to £52.4m, from £11.1m the previous year. Pre-tax profit margins returned to double-digits at 11.3% but were still below pre-pandemic levels. Total sales rose 27.2% to £463.4m, boosted by customers’ return to the high street, successful new ranges and targeted price increases. 

Founded by entrepreneurs Dean and Janet Hoyle in 1997, Card Factory has grown quickly and gone through various stages of ownership. It went public following a successful IPO at the end of 2014.

Innovation rating: 2

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