Belfast Telegraph

Invitations sent out by Clintons as it seeks new owner

Current owner, the Weiss family, have lined up KPMG to find suitors for the card shop chain, which previously went bust in 2012.

Clintons, formerly Clinton Cards, has been put up for sale by its owners, the Weiss family, with KPMG acting as advisers (David Parry / PA)
Clintons, formerly Clinton Cards, has been put up for sale by its owners, the Weiss family, with KPMG acting as advisers (David Parry / PA)

By Simon Neville, PA City Editor

Greeting cards chain Clintons is being put up for sale by its owners, with accountancy giant KPMG drafted in to find potential buyers.

The Weiss family, which took control of Clintons seven years ago, is understood to be looking for an exit with a possible auction taking place.

Clintons – previously known as Clinton Cards until it went bust in 2012 – has 334 stores with around 2,500 employees

Clintons emerged from the collapse of Clinton Cards in 2012 and now has 334 stores across the UK (Lewis Stickley/PA)

The decision to sell, first revealed by Sky News, comes after the company’s most recent set of accounts said the chain expects to be profitable by next year.

Sources close to Clintons’ advisers told the PA news agency the process was under way. KPMG declined to comment.

A spokesman for Clintons said: “Every well-managed company undertakes a periodic and orderly review of strategic options, and this is no different.

“We have extensive and exclusive new ranges of cards and gifts in our stores, which are seeing the benefits of investment in our brand and vertical integration.

“All Clintons staff are aware of the process and our focus is on the Christmas season and beyond.”

The Weiss family have been intimately involved in the turnaround of the business, but have moved away from the greetings card market – selling off 60% of American Greetings to a private equity firm last year.

A Clintons store today, following its overhaul under current owners, changing from Clinton Cards. (Clintons / PA)

American Greetings, the second-biggest card maker in the US after Hallmark, bought Clinton Card’s debt in May 2012 and put the company into administration within hours – wiping out debts and starting a restructuring.

The family injected £20 million into Clintons last year, according to accounts, and offered a 15 million dollar loan note to be used as required.

They have focused on closing loss-making stores, updating others and cutting costs by reducing rents with landlords.

The latest accounts for the year to January 27 2018 saw a pre-tax loss of £14.2 million – down from a £19.4 million loss a year earlier, with revenues of £188.7 million, compared with £201.2 million in 2017. It added the business expected to be a “profitable concern” within two years.