Clinton Cards profits nosedive as it negotiates a fresh credit deal

CARD and gift retailer Clinton Cards posted an 83 per cent slump in full-year profit, hit by a combination of low consumer confidence and intense competition from supermarkets and the internet.

The firm said it made an adjusted operating profit of £3.2m in the year to 31 July, down from £18.8m on revenues down 7.6 per cent at £364.2m.

The group ended the period trading from 596 Clinton Cards stores and 127 Birthdays outlets, employing about 8,350 people. It said sales at stores open over a year were down 1.5 per cent in the first 12 weeks of the new financial year.

The firm has extended its £55m debt facility to July 2013, which fuelled a share price rise after the announcement. Shares in Clinton closed up 11.8 per cent yesterday.

The fortunes of Clinton contrasted with those of Card Factory, its private equity-owned rival, which posted a 56 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £55.66m.

The accounts for Sportswift, which trades as Card Factory, also showed turnover rose nine per cent to £228.83m in the year to 31 January.