Card factory posts soaring online sales and gears up for store reopenings

The Card Factory shop on Ann Street, Belfast. Picture by Cliff Donaldson.
Holly Williams, PA

RETAILER Card Factory said online sales at its main website have more than quadrupled since the start of the coronavirus lockdown as it confirmed plans to reopen 10 per cent of its shops.

The chain said like-for-like sales at have surged 302 per cent since lockdown and are 153 per cent higher in its financial year so far, with sales at up 68 per cent since lockdown.

But the firm - which has furloughed more than 90 per cent of its staff - cancelled its 2019-20 final shareholder dividend payout and said it does not expect to pay one for the current year due to the impact of Covid-19 on overall trading.

Card Factory has more than 1,000 stores in Britain and Ireland, including 42 in the north. Is planning a slow reopening of shops in England from around June 15 but said it had plans for further openings "subject to our early learnings".

It said it believes social distancing can be achieved in most of its stores.

Card Factory said: "It is clear that in some shops social distancing will impact the number of transactions that we are able to deal with; however our teams are looking to introduce innovative ways to process customer transactions to optimise sales in stores, including helping customers reduce the frequency of their visits, but increase the average basket value in each shop."

The group said it had launched a second warehouse unit in Wakefield to meet rocketing demand for online orders amid the coronavirus crisis.

It also plans to launch a new website for in the second half of the year.

Results for the year to the end of January revealed an 11.8 per cent drop in underlying pre-tax profits to £67.2 million, with the group blaming a "very challenging market" and soaring costs.

It saw like-for-like sales at Card Factory fall 0.5 per cent over the year.

Karen Hubbard, chief executive at Card Factory, said: "Before the impact of Covid-19, we had made a satisfactory start to the year.

"In the first major season of the year, Valentine's Day, we achieved our fourth consecutive year of record sales growth in both volume and value.

"However, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted trading and, given the uncertain economic backdrop, we are unable to provide financial guidance for 2020-21."

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