Card Factory boss says high street shopping 'thriving' as Yorkshire firm plans new openings

Card Factory’s success demonstrates the continued strength of high street shopping as the Yorkshire firm saw its revenues surpass £500m and plot dozens of new store openings, its CEO has said.

Darcy Willson-Rymer told The Yorkshire Post that the Wakefield-headquartered company sees the opening of more shops as central to its strategy to grow sales to £650m by the 2027 financial year.

He said: “I believe we have thriving high streets today. I don’t support a ‘death of the high street’ narrative at all and our results talk to that.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"High streets are part of the community and people want to go there to do shopping and meet other people. They are very important.

Card Factory's revenues have surpassed £500m as the firm plans more store openingsCard Factory's revenues have surpassed £500m as the firm plans more store openings
Card Factory's revenues have surpassed £500m as the firm plans more store openings

"But we are very disciplined in our approach. As things change, we will change with it. If footfall moves to another area of town and if something becomes unviable because it is no longer relevant, we relocate stores all the time.

"From a customer perspective, when you send a greeting card or buy a gift they are not for you, they are for somebody else. Choosing the right design and getting the right words is really important – some people like to hold, feel and touch. There is an immediacy to the high street, you can go and buy something immediately.”

The company’s results for the year ending January 31 2024 state that the firm opened 26 net new stores during the 12 months, taking its total across the UK and Ireland to 1,058.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It intends to open a similar number of new stores this year – including one on the outskirts of Harrogate - as part of ongoing efforts to add an extra 90 shops to its portfolio by 2027.

The company saw revenue reach £510.9m in the last year, up 10.3 per cent while adjusted profit before tax was up 27 per cent to £62.1m.

Card Factory has announced the resumption of dividend payments to shareholders after reducing debts by almost 40 per cent.

Mr Willson-Rymer said that is combined with efforts to “invest for growth”, with money recently spent on new equipment at its print factory in Baildon and refurbishing its design studio in Wakefield.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The company’s average card selling price has risen from £1.09 to £1.21 but Mr Willson-Rymer said the company’s business model has allowed it to remain more competitive on price than rivals and continue to offer special discount deals such as ‘10 cards for £1’.

"If you look at the quality, it is as good or better than our rivals. It is not a dumb down on quality.

"We have a vertically integrated model – we design our cards ourselves, we manufacture themselves down the road, do our own warehousing and sell through our own stores. Because of that we can flex and be more agile.

"If you took Christmas for example, if there is a best-selling card that is really resonating, we have the ability to reprint and keep stock much later in the season than somebody else who perhaps manufactures their cards in China.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We have relentless focus on value and making every customer, regardless of their personal circumstances, can celebrate life’s moments. Customers can come in and at ten for £1 buy cards to help celebrate all year.”

Card Factory also reported a record trading day the Saturday before Mother’s Day - something attributed in part to the wider introduction of regionally-captioned cards such as ‘Mam’ in the North East.

Mr Willson-Rymer said: “We got a lot of feedback from our store colleagues and customers to sort of tailor the range where we can.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.