Card Factory has hailed a “robust” performance amid its first quarter results this morning despite seeing a dip in like-for-like sales.
In the three months to April 30 the greeting card retailer, which is due to hold its annual general meeting later today, saw group sales jump three per cent but like-for-like sales dipped 0.4 per cent.
It attributed the slight decline to strong comparables last year and a continually difficult retail landscape.
Though Card Factory continued to push ahead with its store expansion efforts, opening 10 new stores throughout the quarter bringing its total UK estate to 925. It plans to open 50 new stores throughout the year.
Its personalised gifting fascia Getting Personal continued to underperform, thanks to heavy discounting and increasing customer acquisition costs.
Net debt also fell since the beginning of the year, dropping from £161.3 million in January to £147 million.
However, compared to the same period a year prior debt rose £22.3 million.
“We have had a solid start to the year with further sales growth despite an ongoing sector trend of subdued footfall, which impacted the like-for-like performance,” chief executive Karen Hubbard said.
“We have seen a good customer reaction to our seasonal products over the quarter, with record card volumes for both Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, as we continue to improve the range and quality of card and non-card options. Our store opening programme remains on track and we are pleased with the performance of this year’s openings.
“We have also seen strong sales growth from cardfactory.co.uk with our range expansion resonating well with customers. Whilst the sales performance of Getting Personal has been disappointing, a cost effective method of customer acquisition is being adopted to enhance the profitability of sales.
“Overall, Card Factory remains in a strong position as we look forward to the lessening impact of cost headwinds and the benefits of a significant number of business efficiencies being implemented during the year.
“This will put in place a platform for further growth in the medium term. The board’s expectations for the full financial year remain unchanged and I look forward to providing further updates as the year progresses.”