Uncertain future for three city card stores
JOBS could be at risk at three Clinton Cards stores in Peterborough after the company announced it was on the brink of collapse.
The troubled card seller warned yesterday that it expects its largest supplier to begin steps to place the retailer into administration.
The move could mean that the firm’s shops in Bridge Street, Queensgate and Serpentine Green shopping centres in Peterborough may be forced to close if a buyer for the company is not found.
It is not known how many people are employed at the three stores and staff said they had not received any information from the company yesterday.
It is understood that administrators will continue to run the stores as normal while seeking a buyer for the business, but it is feared a large number of stores could be closed.
The retailer, which operates 628 Clintons and 139 Birthdays stores, has requested that its shares be suspended on the London Stock Exchange.
The move comes after its banks, Barclays and taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland, sold the company’s £35 million of loans to its biggest supplier, American Greetings.
But whereas the banks waived certain loan conditions, American Greetings has said it will push the company into administration.
In a statement a spokesman for Clinton Cards said: “Having secured control of the debt, American Greetings immediately informed the board that it intended to enforce the loan against the company.
“The board has concluded that because it is unable to repay the loan, it has no option but to concur with American Greetings’ proposal to place the company and its subsidiaries into administration.”
John Bridge, the chief executive of the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, said: “Clearly the company is having a difficult time and this is sad because it’s an established high street store.
“However, it may be premature to raise too many concerns until the administrators outline their intentions.”
Clinton’s is the UK’S biggest card retailer and employs more than 8,000 staff.
Clinton’s has suffered dire trading in recent months as it comes up against stiff competition from supermarkets and online retailers.
It recorded a pre-tax loss of £3.7 million in the 26 weeks to January 29, compared with a profit of £11.7 million in the previous year, and warned that the second half of the year would be below expectations. Its shares have lost more than 80 per cent of their value since the start of 2010.
Yesterday, it revealed more poor trading for the 14 weeks since January 29, with same-store sales down 3.5per cent.
The chain was founded in 1968 and by 1988 it had 77 stores when it floated on the stock market. Its store numbers were swelled by acquisitions including Hallmark Cards and the Birthdays Group, which had 170 stores, in 2004.
uncertainty: Clinton Cards in Bridge Street.