Gifts Today magazine

Card Factory announces positive growth

The UK’s leading specialist retailer of greeting cards and related gifting items reveals good growth and continued store roll-out

Card Factory, the UK’s leading specialist retailer of greeting cards and related gifting items, is pleased to announce its interim management statement for the period from 1 February 2014 to date. Operational and financial information relates to the nine months ended 31 October 2014 unless stated otherwise.

Recent trading performance
The Group continues to trade in line with the Board’s expectations. 
In the nine months ended 31 October 2014, revenue increased by 8.7%, driven by a combination of like-for-like sales growth, new store roll out and further growth in the complementary online division. This growth rate is similar to that delivered in the nine months ended 31 October 2013 (9.0%).

With 12 net new stores opened in the third quarter, a total of 48 net new stores have been opened in the year to date, bringing the total estate to 761 stores as at 31 October 2014. We remain on track to deliver approximately 50 net new stores in the current financial year, and we remain confident of the potential to expand the store portfolio to up to 1,200 stores in total, for which we already have identified locations.

Looking ahead to our next financial year ending 31 January 2016, the Group has a strong pipeline of additional new store opportunities and we remain confident of successfully continuing our historic opening rate of approximately 50 net new stores per annum.

Both our retail brands, Card Factory and Getting Personal (www.gettingpersonal.co.uk), are well prepared and positioned for the forthcoming Christmas trading period.

Financial position
The Group remains highly cash generative before financing activities.
As at 31 October 2014, net debt was at a similar level to that reported at the interim stage reflecting ongoing monthly profit generation offset by the build up of stock for the forthcoming Christmas trading period. The Board expects to report a further reduction in this net debt position at the year end.

Management
We are also pleased to announce the appointment of Tim Lloyd as Property Director. Tim is a qualified surveyor and a retail-focused property agent. Having previously been a partner at Fawcett Mead, he has worked with Card Factory since 2003 when our portfolio consisted of only 40 stores. In addition to his extensive knowledge of the high street and property market, Tim is very familiar with our business model, the existing store estate and future roll out pipeline.

Investor site visit
Card Factory is hosting a site visit for investors tomorrow, Thursday 13 November, including a tour of the Group’s design studio and printing operation and a visit to local stores. No new material financial or other information will be provided during the visit.

Christmas trading and preliminary results announcements
The Group will announce its preliminary results for the year ending 31 January 2015 on 25 March 2015, with a short trading statement to be issued in mid January.

Richard Hayes, Card Factory’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “The Group continues to perform well with growth coming from the existing store estate and new store roll out programme as well as our smaller but developing online proposition. “We continue to develop our product range and remain very focused on delivering a strong and clear value proposition to our customers. “As we enter the important Christmas trading period, the Group is well positioned for further growth and we look forward to updating investors on our progress in the New Year.”



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