Card Factory sees sales rise despite tough high street conditions

Retail chain Card Factory has thanked another year of record sales over Valentine’s and Mother’s Day for helping boost sales amid tough conditions on the high street.

The group, which has 979 stores in the UK and Ireland, said sales in the three months to April 30 rose 6.4%, or 2.3% on a like-for-like basis.

Card Factory said the first quarter sales hike was in part due to weak results a year ago, but added it expects like-for-like sales to be “marginally positive” over the full year as it revamps ranges and designs.

Shares lifted 3%.

Karen Hubbard, the chief executive of Card Factory, said: “We have had a positive start to the year with like-for-like sales growth despite challenging consumer sentiment and negative footfall on the high street.

“We have seen a good customer reaction to our seasonal card ranges over the quarter, with yet again record card sales in volumes and value for both Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.”

The group also confirmed it remained on track to open around 50 stores this year on a net basis – those opened, less those closed – which comes in contrast to many of its retail rivals forced to shut outlets.

It opened 14 net new stores in its first quarter.

But the update showed its Getting Personal online gift business continued to suffer due to heavy discounting in the market and as it invested heavily to attract new customers.

The update follows a difficult past financial year for Card Factory, which saw annual profits drop 8.3% and like-for-like sales growth grind to a halt.

It has already cautioned that earnings in 2019-20 are expected to be flat, due to continuing cost pressures.

Retail experts at Liberum said Card Factory’s first quarter performance was a “good result”.

“There is some help from an easier comparative, but we think credit is deserved for management’s self-help measures around range and quality,” they added.