'No buyer found' for Clinton Cards

Clinton CardsThe turnaround plans of embattled gifts retailer Clinton Cards have reportedly suffered a blow after it failed to find a buyer for the business.

Chief executive Darcy Willson-Rymer has carried out a strategic review over the past six months, which is understood to have included a fruitless search for a buyer for all of the business or its Birthdays chain.
He will now start discussing plans to revive the business with landlords and lenders and is widely expected to close a large number of its 328 Clintons and 139 Birthdays stores.

Calling in administrators to allow them to close underperforming stores or a company voluntary arrangement that would see landlords drop rents are among the options being discussed, according to the Independent on Sunday.

Clintons has been on the retail critical list as it suffers increased competition from rivals such as Moonpig and WH Smith's Funky Pigeon website, which sell personalised cards. Supermarkets and discount stores such as Poundland are also treading on its toes.

It recorded a pre-tax loss of £3.7 million in the 26 weeks to January 29, compared to a profit of £11.7 million in the previous year, and warned the second half of the year would be below expectations.

Its shares have lost more than 80% of their value since the start of 2010 and closed at 7.7p on Friday, giving the company a value of just £16.3 million.

Mr Willson-Rymer, who joined the company from coffee chain Starbucks in October, is expected to provide more details of his strategic review at a trading update on May 10.

A spokesman said: "The strategic review has now been completed and we have examined all the options and we will report shortly on what we will do with the business."
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