Card Factory Prepares To Only Re-Open 100 Of Its Stores On June 15

Card Factory revealed today (June 2) that it only planning to initially re-open 10% of its stores (around 100 of its 1,009 UK estate) on June 15, the earliest day ‘non-essential’ retailers are able to re-open for business following lockdown. Others will follow later and will be fully compliant with the Covid-19 requirements. The group’s online trade has soared with like-for-like sales at www.cardfactory.co.uk up 302% since lockdown and sales from its gettingpersonal.co.uk site have been up 68% since lockdown.

This news came as part of a jam-packed set of announcements from the value retail group anchored by the sharing of its preliminary results for the year ended 31 January 2020. The results detail how in the 12 months to end of January, Card Factory experienced a 11.8% dip in its pre-tax profits (taking it to £67.2 million) on turnover that was up 3.6% (£451 million) with like-for-like sales down a tad at 0.5%. The latter point, Karen Hubbard, ceo of Card Factory said was a reflection of “weak consumer confidence and high street footfall decline in the second half” of the year. Highlights of the period were the retailer’s Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day sales, which both showed record sales for the third year in succession. Christmas however was less sparkling, with Karen admitting to a “weaker” sales performance as a consequence of the “macro back drop, reduced demand and execution issues.”

Above: Karen Hubbard, ceo of Card Factory said on a recent PG Buzz-hosted Zoom meeting that she has high hopes for Christmas this year.
Above: Karen Hubbard, ceo of Card Factory said on a recent PG Buzz-hosted Zoom meeting that she has high hopes for Christmas this year.

As well as sending a reassuring message about the resilience of the greeting card sector as a whole, the announcement also contained some interesting research findings as well as Card Factory’s new global aspirations.

“The fundamentals of the card market remain intact – it is a large, and broadly stable market. Our updated analysis shows that the increasing average prices of cards fully offsets the very modest year-on-year volume decline. We see interesting areas of growth that are consistent with wider consumer trends, such as the growth of new and non-standard occasions offsetting a long-term decline in Christmas card giving, and a growing minority of shoppers now buying cards on impulse rather than in planned shopping missions,” said Karen.

Above: Card Factory’s distribution to all shops in The Reject Shop estate in Australia is a signal of the retail group’s global aspirations.
Above: Card Factory’s distribution to all shops in The Reject Shop estate in Australia is a signal of the retail group’s global aspirations.

She shared research findings which state that Card Factory now accounts for 33% of all single greeting cards bought in the UK, is now #1 ranked UK retailer for ‘value for money’ (according to findings from OC&C Strategy Consultants) and how “more than 40% of card shoppers now consider Card Factory to be their main shop for greeting cards.”

The head of the Wakefield-based company reveals how it now has a vision to be recognised as ‘the world’s best greeting card retailer’, a revised strategy to drive long-term sustainable and profitable growth. As Karen elaborates “Critically, while this strategy focuses on delivering growth predominately in the UK market, it also allows us to leverage our assets internationally, taking the Card Factory brand into new geographies,” citing its five year agreement to supply The Reject Shop chain in Australia as part of this.

Above: A Card Factory display inside a Reject Shop store in Oz.
Above: A Card Factory display inside a Reject Shop store in Oz.

Top: Card Factory is to initially only open 10% of its stores on June 15.

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