Card Factory follows Kardashians trend with festive family photocards launch

Card Factory has launched a “festive families photocard” service inspired by the likes of the Kardashians as it looks to offset tough high street conditions.

The chain has drafted in celebrity couple Stacey Solomon and Joe Swash to help launch its new service, which will run from pop-up stores across the UK, as well as online.

It comes amid a trend for annual family photoshoots set by celebrities such as reality TV stars the Kardashians and as personalised cards become increasingly popular.

Card Factory unveiled the service as its latest trading update revealed a tough third quarter across its stores, hit by falling numbers of shoppers on the high street.

Like-for-like sales dropped 0.4% across its 1,010-strong shop estate in the UK and Ireland over the three months to October 31.

Online sales growth also slowed against a strong performance a year earlier, but remained the bright spot, at 16.2% in the quarter.

This compares with 25% online growth in the first half.

Shares in the firm fell more than 4%.

But overall revenues rose 5% in the nine months of the year so far as it pushed ahead with a store opening programme, launching another 12 new stores on a net basis in the third quarter.

Karen Hubbard, chief executive of Card Factory, said the group remained “broadly” on track with full-year expectations as it heads into its key festive trading period.

Ms Hubbard added: “Our ongoing focus on customer experience, and the quality and range of our card and complementary non-card products, has led to an increased average spend both in stores and online.

“This has helped us to substantially offset the effect of the lower high street footfall experienced in the quarter and the corresponding impact on our like-for-like sales.”

The group also confirmed its results were continuing to be weighed down by costs of no-deal Brexit stockbuilding, as well as a higher wage bill from the National Living Wage increase and investment in new lines.

It hopes these cost pressures will “substantially reduce” in the new financial year.

It is also rolling out its new agreement to supply half of German discount supermarket Aldi’s estate – some 440 stores – by the end of the month.

Retail expert Wayne Brown at Liberum said the tougher quarter was to be expected in a “traditionally quiet period”.

He added: “The third quarter update represents a slowdown from the run-rate in the first half, but there is nothing here to be concerned about.”