Two weeks after addressing the greeting card industry at the GCA AGM and Conference, Karen Hubbard, Card Factory’s ceo is back facing City analysts today (November 15), giving assurances of the robustness of the category in the all important run up to Christmas.
“I spend quite a lot of time in the City with investors, analysts and the press convincing them ‘card giving’ is alive and well, and the card industry is not going to suddenly disappear – so it is refreshing to be able to stand in front of an audience who truly understand the card giving tradition,” she told the packed audience at the recent GCA AGM during her keynote speech.
A Trading Update released today covering for the nine months to October 31, sees Karen back ‘convincing’ the City crowd that card sending is not dead. The update reveals that Card Factory’s sales have grown by 3.4% in the first nine months of this year. More telling, it reports a slight improvement (0.1%) in Card Factory’s like-for-like (LFL) sales in its third quarter, citing the improvements it has made to its everyday card ranges as helping to increase the average spend. In her statement, Karen also revealed that sales from the Card Factory online operation has also seen significant growth, up 71% year on year, albeit from a low base. However its Getting Personal online site has fared less well, down 9%, due to heavy discounting and costs attributed to acquiring new customers.
“Despite the continuation of challenging high street trading conditions, we delivered positive LFL sales in the third quarter, marking a slight improvement on the LFL performance seen in the first half. This reflected further growth in average spend and improved performance of our redesigned everyday ranges, in addition to our growing Card Factory online business,” Karen states.
Although Card Factory will not be revealing how Christmas sales stacked up until January 10, Karen is approaching the “Christmas trading period with confidence”. She revealed at the recent GCA AGM that Card Factory expects to serve 46.3 million customers in the festive run up and while she accepts that volumes of Christmas cards being sent are in decline it remains a vital card sending event.
“There is no doubt there will be less card giving to the postman and rubbish collectors, but giving cards to significant others at Christmas remains strong,” she said in her speech at the AGM. “I speculate that card giving, in whatever guise will be alive and well in the years to come, and as market leader by volume – we intend to continue to grow our market share.”
Card Factory claims a 32% market share (by volume) of the greeting card market with its 948 stores, but remains convinced it will grow the chain to 1,200 stores.
Top: Karen Hubbard, ceo of Card Factory addressing the audience at the recent GCA AGM and Conference.