Profits take a hit at listed high street retailer

Pre-tax profits at Card Factory dropped 4.4% from £68.2m to £65.2m in the company’s preliminary results for the year ended 31 January 2020.

The Wakefield-headquartered retailer saw revenue rise from £436m to £451.5m over the same period.

It attributed a 0.5% fall in like-for-like sales to weak consumer confidence and high street footfall decline in the second half.

But the business highlighted Valentine’s and Mother’s Days’ record sales for a third consecutive year, noting this was driven by range, design and innovation for both card and complementary gifting.

Card Factory also opened a net total of 50 new stores.

Due to the virus emergency, all of the company’s stores have been shut and over 90% of staff have been furloughed under the Government’s Job Retention Scheme.

The retailer’s report adds: “We are planning to open 10% of our stores around 15 June, ensuring we are compliant with the requirements for ‘Covid-Secure’ to enable us to test trading under these new conditions.

“We have worked through the detail of social distancing in our stores, received appropriate PPE and other equipment.”

Karen Hubbard, chief executive officer, said: “We delivered a reasonable sales performance in a challenging year for the high street, growing both our volume and value card market share in the mature and stable UK greeting card market. 

“Our profitability was, however, impacted by a number of recurring cost pressures and other one off operational costs which we were not able to fully mitigate.

“We have developed further our online infrastructure and capability to ensure we are set to deliver in what is increasingly becoming a multi-channel environment.

“We agreed a five-year contract  with The Reject Shop in Australia following a successful concession trial. This contract represents our first international business and is a potential template for other markets.

“A key focus has been on appropriately managing our business and protecting our staff through the COVID-19 crisis. 

“We have developed flexible plans which will ensure the safety of our colleagues and customers whilst allowing a phased re-opening of our stores from 15 June in line with Government guidelines.”