Clinton Cards’ new strategy raises takings

Kasmira Jefford
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CLINTON CARDS brought some cheer to the market yesterday, after revealing a rise in Christmas sales, thanks largely to the strategy of its new chief executive, the former coffee man Darcy Willson-Rymer (pictured).

As managing director of Starbucks UK and Ireland, Willson-Rymer was credited for steering the coffee chain through the recession and reinvigorating its stores.

He now claims to have given Clintons a similar shot in the arm, thanks to “a single-minded focus” on the customer.

“Our Christmas trading update recognises the positive impact of this approach,” he said in a statement yesterday, while conceding there was more work to be done.

The retailer, which has ploughed its way through tough trading conditions as well as intense competition from supermarkets and the internet, said sales at stores open over a year rose 0.4 per cent year-on-year in the five weeks to 1 January.

That compares with a fall of 2.4 per cent in the 16 weeks to 20 November, and meant cumulative like-for-like sales for the 22 weeks to 1 January were down 1.4 per cent.

Willson-Rymer, who is still working on a strategic review of the retailer, said: “Despite a tough retail climate, we remain in line with the board’s expectations.”

Analysts forecast a pre-tax loss of £8.8m for the current financial year.

Clinton’s shares closed up 4.5 per cent at 11.5p last night.