Card Factory half-year sales up 3.2% despite rocky trading conditions

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Card Factory 900th store

Card Factory faced a battle on numerous fronts for its first financial half, despite booking a 3.2 per cent rise in total group sales.

The greetings card and gift retailer revealed total group sales had risen 3.2 per cent during its first half, down from 6.1 per cent for the same period a year before.

Like-for-like sales fell 0.2 per cent during the six months to July 31, after rising 3.1 per cent in during first six months of trading last year.

The retailer cited a weak consumer environment and extreme weather conditions behind the erratic results, but did note a record seasonal performance for Father’s Day – Card Factory’s “best ever” for volume and value.

“We continue to experience a weak consumer environment, made all the more challenging by the impact of this year’s extreme weather conditions on high street footfall,” chief executive Karen Hubbard said.

She added: “The performance of our seasonal ranges has been strong, with our best ever Father’s Day in terms of volume and value, although we recognise there has to be more focus on our Everyday ranges, which have lagged the seasonal performance.”

Card Factory’s current expectation for the year in EBITDA stands between £89 million and £91 million.

“The key Q4 trading period will of course be critical in determining the final result for the year, but we believe we are well positioned to deliver a good performance in our important Christmas trading season,” Hubbard said.

Card Factory also continued to expand in the first half, opening 25 net new stores and trailing seven stores in the the Republic of Ireland.

As of July 31, before deducting capitalised debt costs, Card Factory said its net debt totalled £159.8 million, compared to £146.0 million for the same period in 2017 and £161.3 million by January 31 2018.

The retailer noted a strong operating cash generation during the period, more than covering payment of its full year final dividend of £21.9 million in 2018.

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