Card Factory sees profit soar, but warns of tough conditions in Christmas run-up

Card Factory's store on Belfast's Ann Street, one of its 41 shops across the north.
Card Factory's store on Belfast's Ann Street, one of its 41 shops across the north.

RETAILER Card Factory has warned investors it faces a tough run-up to Christmas with the economy facing a potential downturn, but said it was well placed to weather the problems.

The card seller, which has 41 shops across Northern Ireland, said that it comes to the run-up in a decent position.

In the six months to the end of July pre-tax profit soared 73 per cent to £24.7 million, and its Valentine's, Father's Day and Mother's Day ranges outperformed the previous year.

But chief executive Darcy Willson-Rymer warned that the "economic backdrop" is challenging at the moment.

Despite closing its store at Antrim’s Junction retail park, Card Factory remains one of the most prolific retail chains in the north.

"We are well prepared for our key Christmas trading season,” said Mr Willson-Rymer.

“Our Christmas programme has now launched and includes our first fully integrated marketing campaign.”

The retailer said that all the stock it wants for Christmas has been manufactured so that it can be delivered on time, and the company has not yet had any problems with the logistics needed to get products made abroad to its shops.

It is also recruiting staff for the period.

The Card Factory boss added: "Our value and quality proposition and the strength of our store estate resonates with customers and positions us well to navigate the challenging economic backdrop in the run-up to the Christmas trading season.

"Continued leveraging of the insights gathered from our investment in customer data is enabling us to evolve and optimise our store formats and ranges across cards, gifts and celebration essentials, all underpinned by our discipline in maintaining a resilient financial position."

The business said revenue rose 11.5 per cent in the six months to the end of July to £220.8 million.

Like-for-like sales increased by 10.5 per cent in Card Factory shops, in part thanks to price rises, but online sales dropped 13.1 per cent.

"We are delighted to announce a strong performance in the first six months of this year," Mr Willson-Rymer said.

The business has performed in line with expectations since its last update in August.