Card Factory looks forward to strong Christmas trading

Budget greetings card firm Card Factory said it has seen an encouraging performance since its stores reopened and it is well set up for the all important Christmas trading season.

Card Factory reported better than expected trading in stores since their reopening

The Wakefield-based firm warned that this was subject to further impacts of Covid-19 constraints on social mobility and footfall.

The group said revenue nearly halved in the six months to July 31, down from £196m to £101m, and the company made a pre-tax loss of £22m, down from a pre-tax profit of £24m in the previous half year.

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Card Factory said its results were in line with expectations, reflecting the impact of store closures across the UK and Republic of Ireland from March 23 until the completion of the phased reopening on July 24.

The group established funding headroom via access to the Government's Covid Corporate Finance Fund and renegotiated banking covenants.

It reported a strong online performance with 64 per cent like-for-like revenue growth due to increased demand during the period of store closures and a positive response following the website relaunch on July 2.

Its partnership sales were better than expected, with £2m in sales as a result of strong Aldi footfall and The Reject Shop's positive performance since reopening following the national lockdown.

The group said its search for a new chief executive is progressing to plan.

It reported better than expected trading in stores since their reopening, with transaction numbers on an improving trend since the period end. It has seen material average basket value gains which are holding steady, with like-for-like sales down only 7 per cent in the four weeks to September 20.

The group said it is confident about the long term stability of the card market.

Paul Moody, Card Factory's executive chairman, said: "I am extremely proud of all colleagues working across every part of our business for the significant contribution they have made throughout this period of unprecedented disruption.

"In particular, for their unrelenting focus in driving the very successful phased store-reopening programme. The combination of our unique customer insight, vertically integrated business model and market leading position continues to ensure that we are well positioned to meet the increased online demand, supply our commercial partners and to present the optimum ranges in our stores.

"We are pleased with both the trading performance as our stores have reopened and the positive feedback from customers who are visiting less frequently, but spending more.

"Recognising the uncertainty of the impact of further Covid-19 measures and changes in consumer behaviour in the short term, we are focused on a flawless execution of Christmas and the implementation of our refreshed strategy."