Clinton Cards Chairman Don Lewin has warned that its group like-for-like (LFL) sales could continue to decline in the second half of its financial year after reporting that trading slumped in the first six months of the fiscal period.
In the 26 weeks to January 30th 2011, LFL sales at the card and gift specialist were down 2.7 per cent year-on-year, while total revenue dropped from £191.1 million to £178.3 million during the same period.
Lewin admitted that low consumer confidence and weak footfall had contributed to the reduction in trading activity, but noted that spend per head grew 1.1 per cent over the six months.
He also indicated that unless the current trading environment improves significantly in the months ahead, a single digit sales decline in the second half of the year is likely.
Earlier this month Clintons opted to dispose of its struggling Birthdays brand in the Republic of Ireland - a decision that the Chairman said was taken “reluctantly”.
A statement at the time said all 14 stores trading in the country were loss-making, prompting the move to place this part of the business in administration. None of the Clinton Cards stores and Birthday UK stores were affected by the decision.
Although cautious in his statement today Lewin retained a sense of optimism, saying: “There are several exciting initiatives to be launched before the year end including the redesigned website offering a full personalisation service and complementary smartphone application.
“There will be four redesigned stores featuring a new layout, fixturing, colour scheme and directional signage.”
Seasonal events, as ever, will be important for the retailer this year, and the forthcoming trading period includes a number of celebratory occasions.
Lewin remarked: “There are two major seasons, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, before the financial year end, and Mother’s Day card sales have made an encouraging start.”