Clinton profits up by 26 per cent
Clinton Cards has posted a 26 percent rise in first-half adjusted pretax profit, helped by higher sales across all product categories, and said it saw full-year pretax profit coming in ahead of market view. Like-for-like sales for the six months to January 31 rose 3 per cent to £191m while shares rose 8.3 per cent to close at 49p after Clinton said it had cut net debt by 40.6 per cent to £18.5m.
The firm, which put its Birthdays brand into administration last year and later bought back 196 of those stores, said it would seek the board's approval to repurchase up to 14.9 percent of its issued share capital.
It currently has about 206.9 million shares outstanding.
While trading at the start of the second half had been more subdued than the first half, Clinton Cards said it was managing costs well.
For the six months to end-January, the company reported adjusted pretax profit of 20.7 million pounds ($30.8 million), compared with 16.5 million pounds a year ago.
Chairman Don Lewin commented that "Whilst trading for the first half was very encouraging, the start to the second half has been more subdued. However, we have retained tight controls of our cost base and therefore the board expects to deliver profit before tax for the full year ahead of current market expectations."
Paul Salador, finance director, said: “About 18 months ago there was a lot of pressure on the business but we feel we’re working well now – we’ve just paid off the final £12m of our finance facility that we originally got when we bought Birthdays.”
Mr Salador added that the group will consider paying a dividend at the year end. The company previously paid a dividend for the full year ending in July 2008.
New store designs are being trialled alongside a pilot of party supply shops called Pure Party that will cater to the growing costume market.
Clinton is also said to be developing a website where consumers can customise their cards.