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Deal is on the cards for high street chain

The remains of high street chain Clinton Cards are expected to be snapped up by an American greetings card firm later this week.

Reports have suggested that American Greetings, which has been one of Clinton's biggest suppliers, will take possession of up to 400 stores. The chain - which includes Clinton Cards and Birthdays outlets - has approximately 750 stores in the UK, 30 of them in Northern Ireland.

Clintons administrator Zolfo Cooper previously said around 350 stores will still close, causing nearly 3,000 full and part-time staff to lose their jobs. It is unclear whether the closures include the Northern Ireland outlets.

The administrator is aiming to sell the business by Friday but could do so before then. It said the group had made losses of £130m since 2004.

Ohio-based American Greetings placed itself in pole position to buy the chain after it snapped up Clinton's £35m bank debt, making it a preferential creditor and giving it a strong position in sale talks.

It is not expected to pay anything to the administrator for the stores, according to the Sunday Times. WH Smith and Card Factory - Clinton's biggest direct competitor with 596 shops - were also touted as potential bidders.

American Greetings, which has had a trading relationship with Clinton for 40 years, is likely to retain the business as a separate retailer.

Clinton Cards was the UK's largest specialist retailer of greetings cards and was founded in 1968. Its collapse came as another blow to the high street after the collapse of La Senza, Peacocks and outdoor specialist Blacks Leisure. American Greetings dates back over 100 years and generates annual revenues of $1.7bn (£1.1bn).