The last few days has seen Cardzone open three new card shops and is on course to open 25 stores by the end this year. This will mean the Nottinghamshire-based specialist group, is likely to be trading from 160 stores this Christmas.
Of these, around 20 stores are expected to be former Clintons’ units. “Prior to lockdown we had been looking to expand and had been talking to landlords in various locations. So, when we were informed that Clintons was planning to exit some stores, this presented opportunities for us as being able to open in locations which already had a customer base for a good card shop was obviously beneficial. We are also pleased that we have been able to take on some of Clintons’ staff, thereby safeguarding their jobs,” James Taylor, trading director of Cardzone told PG Buzz.
The first of the new stores have now opened in Macclesfield and Belfast (Forestside shopping centre) and a relocation in Crystal Peaks shopping centre, just outside Sheffield. The new store in Macclesfield was the first to feature a fresh, more upmarket Cardzone branding and colourway while also makes a virtue of the company’s heritage. The new Belfast store however is to trade under the Hallmark brand.
These new openings will bolster Cardzone’s presence in other geographical areas, most notably in the South of England. “The new locations are pretty well spread, including one store in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales with the remainder in England. This allows us to strengthen our presence in the South of England, where traditionally we have been weak,” said James, confirming that agreements have been reached for stores to open shortly in Maidenhead, Hornchurch, Rayleigh and Bexleyheath.
Also, as many of the units are larger than Cardzone’s existing estate, it will mean the retailer will be offering an expanded selection of greeting cards as well as its own mix of gifts.
The main control is to be equally split between Hallmark and UKG with many other publishers’ designs pepping up the enlarged display.
“Up until now, our store in Locksheath was our largest at 2,500 sq ft. The Belfast one we have just opened, for example is 3,500 sq ft. This extra space means we can take our stock control to a new level,” James pointed out.
“We’re excited by this opportunity and hope the industry sees it as good news too,” said Paul Taylor, md of Cardzone. “Admittedly the timing and conditions could have better, but you can’t stand still.”
Commenting on the current level of trade and how Covid-19 is impacting on sales, James said: “Performance is mixed. While sales in shopping centres and city centres are well down, thankfully we have many stores in market towns which are faring OK. Overall, we had forecast trade to be far worse, so are relieved to some extent, but it clearly needs to pick up!”
James also confirmed that Cardzone is working with a partner to develop an online presence, which is expected to go live in October.
Top: The new Cardzone branding also extends down the side of the Macclesfield store.