Card Factory enjoys good Christmas trading

Budget greetings card retailer Card Factory reported a slowdown in comparable sales during 2016, but said it enjoyed good trading over the festive period.

Card Factory's CEO Karen Hubbard said customers responded well to its festive card ranges

​The Wakefield-based firm​ said ​like-for-like store sales returned to growth in final quarter of the financial​ ​yea​r.

​​The group reported y​ear-to-date like-for-like store sales growth ​of ​0.4​ per cent in the 11 months to December 31, down from growth of 2.8 per cent the previous year.​

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​With the opening of 51 new stores, year-to-date sales rose 4.3 per cent over the 11 month period.

The group said it is confident of delivering a full year, underlying, pre-tax profit that is slightly ahead of analysts' consensus.

Talking about fourth quarter sales, analyst Jonathan Pritchard at ​Peel Hunt said: "The fact that this better sales showing is accompanied by an upgrade to forecasts is highly reassuring.

​"​It remains clear to us that the greetings card industry is extremely stable and Card Factory has an enviable position within it. The competition will, undoubtedly in our minds, continue to close stores and this will only aid the ​like-for-like​ momentum further​."​

Karen Hubbard, Card Factory’s C​EO, said:​ ​“As I approach my first anniversary with the business, it is pleasing to report that Card Factory has​ ​traded well through the competitive Christmas trading period with customers once again responding​ ​well to our card and non-card ranges.

​"​As a result, like-for-like store sales in the fourth quarter of the​ ​financial year have returned to our expected range.

​"​Whilst all retailers will clearly face cost pressures in 2017, the proven strength of our retail​ ​proposition, underpinned as ever by our unique vertically integrated model, provides our business​ ​with significant competitive advantage. We believe that this will enable us to further increase our​ ​market share as we have done every year since the business was formed in 1997.”

T​he group also announced ​the departure of finance director Darren Bryant​.​