Belfast Telegraph

Card Factory posts 7.3% rise in profits to £27.6m

Card Factory has seen increased revenues and profits despite store sales taking a hit from slowing footfall on Britain's high streets.

The gifts and greetings cards retailer said like-for-like sales rose 0.2% in the six months to the end of July, with softer footfall delivering "lower than normal" sales growth in stores.

Revenues lifted 4.8% to £169.2 million over the period, while pre-tax profits rose 7.3% to £27.6 million.

The company said trading in recent weeks was similar to trends seen in the first half of the year.

Chief executive Karen Hubbard said the firm was "highly cash-generative" and was on course to hit its full-year targets for underlying pre-tax profits.

She added: "The potential for further growth - through like-for-like sales growth, further store rollout and the full exploitation of our online channels - is exciting."

She also announced a special dividend of 15 pence per share and said the company had now returned more than £160 million to shareholders since its initial public offering (IPO) two years ago.

Shares were up 2% on the London stock market.

Card Factory, which has nearly 850 shops across the UK, said it had bolstered its presence on the high street by opening 34 new stores over the period, with another six being launched in the last two months.

It also drove home a strong half-year performance online, as sales from the new Card Factory website climbed by around 300%.

But it said it would drive investment into its online personalised cards and gifts business,, after it eked out a flat sales performance.

Peel Hunt analyst Jonathan Pritchard said Card Factory's profits were "more than sound" and the firm was well placed to cope with the tough conditions on the high street compared with its competition.