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Sales up at Card Factory but profits still taking a hit 

Card Factory has warned that challenging conditions on the high street are continuing to drag on profits.

The retailer, which has more than 30 outlets across Northern Ireland, issued a profit warning earlier this year, saw underlying pre-tax profit drop 14% to £22.7m in the in the six months to July 31.

Like-for-like sales dipped 0.2% amid a “difficult consumer backdrop”.

But total sales in the period were up 3.2% to £185.3m as the firm was boosted by record numbers for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Boss Karen Hubbard said: “We have delivered solid interim results with overall sales growth, despite the weak consumer environment and particularly challenging footfall across the high street, driven by various factors.

“Profitability was impacted by lower like-for-like sales, but we continue to largely mitigate the headwinds we face through various business efficiencies.”

Card Factory shares plunged as much as 7% at the market open before settling at 3% lower.

On a bottom-line basis, pre-tax profit rose 17.2% to £27.2m.

The results come amid a difficult period for the firm.

Only last month, Card Factory slashed full-year profit guidance off the back of extreme weather and weak consumer demand.

The greeting cards and gifts retailer expects full-year underlying earnings to come in between £89m and £91m, compared with previous forecasts of £93.5m.

The company blamed the drop on poor weather conditions and “uncertainty around the UK consumer environment”, and said its current guidance will depend on its performance in the final three months of the year.

Retailers have taken a hit in recent months, not only due to the cold snap brought in by the Beast from the East in the early spring, but the heatwave that has kept shoppers away from the high street.

Belfast Telegraph