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.

The Card Factory site recently replatformed to enable the retailer to pursue a more multichannel strategy, which has helped meet heightened demand as stores came under pressure in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown periods.

The digital proposition was further improved from late 2020 with the launch of a new Card Factory app.

The retailer had been expanding at a rate of some 50 stores a year until recently, but reported a net reduction of six stores in the year ended 31 January 2020 (FY2020) as Covid-19 resulted in some planned new store openings being postponed and attention turned instead to savvy relocations.

As well as increasing online sales, which accelerated due to the pandemic, the retailer 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.

Card Factory’s vertically integrated business model, which includes an in-house design team and print works, has ensured high profit margins, but these have come under pressure in the past few years as the retailer has battled currency headwinds and increased investment in infrastructure to support the rapid expansion programme.

And the retailer swung to a pre-tax loss of £16.4m in the challenging 2020 financial year as total sales rose fell 36.9% to £285.1m, impacted by lockdown-related store closures, which affected key seasonal trading events.

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: 1.5

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