Normally at this time of year, Clintons has dreamt up some quirky PR slant with the aim of clinching some juicy coverage for its Christmas selection. This year however there is certainly no shortage of media mentions about the UK’s second largest specialist chain, though none of it is full of festive joy.
‘Clintons to shut one in five of the greeting card chain’s 332 sites’ proclaimed the Sunday Telegraph (November 9) with the Sunday Times following suit on the same day with its story headed up ‘Clintons warns that 2,500 jobs are in peril’. The online news and specialist sites have also been active. ‘Clintons in survival talks over shop closures and rent cuts’ was the headline on BBC News while ‘Clintons to shut 1 in 5 shops’ was the tack taken by Retail Gazette with many others being variations on the same theme.
The coverage is all based around talks that Clintons is having with landlords with a view to exploring the possibility of a CVA.
The Sunday Telegraph article by journalist Laura Onita was based on an alleged sighting of a restructuring document that detailed: “Approximately 90 of the company’s stores are currently loss-making with the business forecasting that sales will continue to decline.”
The news piece speculated that 66 out of Clintons 332 have been earmarked for closure with rent reductions being sought on more than 200 of the remainder.
Despite having been hounded by the national press and broadcasters, the Clintons senior management team and owners (the Weiss family) have kept a very low profile. The only official statement, issued by its PR agent is that: “Discussions are continuing, but no decisions have been made.”
For a CVA to go ahead it would need to be supported by at least 75% of Clintons’ creditors, which would mean getting a fair number of landlords on board.
In 2018, Clintons announced losses of to £14.2 million (an improvement on the £19.4 million loss the year before) on sales of £188 million (down from £201 million the year previously).
It was announced that Clintons was being put up for sale in September (https://www.pgbuzz.net/clintons-is-put-up-for-sale/) with the owners, the Weiss family having appointed accountancy firm KPMG to investigate the options. Bids of intent were invited from suitors by October 4. (https://www.pgbuzz.net/first-stage-offers-of-intent-bids-are-in-for-clintons/)
The November edition of Progressive Greetings (which has now been published) includes a Cardsharp article on the history and possible future direction of Clintons, which is great background given the recent developments and the mooted CVA (click to pages 24-25).
Top: A CVA is looking like a ‘least worst’ option for Clintons.