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Clinton Cards upbeat as new boss drives up sales

The new boss of Clinton Cards said his firm's "single-minded focus" on the customer helped deliver improved trading over Christmas.

Darcy Willson-Rymer, who joined the company from coffee chain Starbucks in October, announced a rise in like-for-like sales for the Clintons brand of 0.8% in the five weeks to January 1, compared with a 2.6% decline in the previous 16 weeks.

The greetings and gift card chain, which operates 630 Clintons stores and 141 Birthdays outlets, has been on the retail critical list after plunging to a £10.7m annual loss amid falling sales.

Mr Willson-Rymer, who has started a review into all aspects of the business including its store portfolio and digital offering, admitted there was still much more to be done in the company's turnaround.

However, he added: "Since I joined Clintons, we have had a single-minded focus on the customer. Our Christmas trading update recognises the positive impact of this approach."

Clinton said this included improved customer service and making sure it had the right products in store.

The improvement at Clintons was offset by a deteriorating performance at Birthdays, where like-for-like sales were 2.7% lower than a year ago. Overall, the group's like-for-like sales were 0.4% higher.

Mr Willson-Rymer added: "Going forward, there is clearly more work to be done and I am looking at this within my strategic review. Despite a tough retail climate, we remain in line with the board's expectations."