Customer focus lifts Clinton

THE new chief executive of Clinton Cards said his company’s “single-minded focus” on the customer helped to deliver improved trading over Christmas.

Darcy Willson-Rymer, who joined the company from coffee chain Starbucks in October, announced a rise in like-for-like sales of 0.8 per cent at Clintons stores for the five weeks to January 1, compared with a 2.6 per cent decline in the previous 16 weeks.

The greetings and gift card chain, which operates 630 Clintons stores and 141 Birthdays outlets, has been on the retail critical list after plunging to a £10.7m annual loss amid falling sales. Clintons has almost 40 Yorkshire stores while Birthdays has nine in the region.

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Mr Willson-Rymer, who is reviewing the entire business, including stores, online retailing and efficiency, said there was still much more to be done in the company’s turnaround.

However, he added: “Since I joined Clintons, we have had a single-minded focus on the customer. Our Christmas trading update recognises the positive impact of this approach.”

Clintons’ improvement was offset by deteriorating performance at Birthdays, where like-for-like sales were 2.7 per cent lower than a year ago. Overall, the group’s like-for-like sales were 0.4 per cent higher.