Clinton Cards Collapses Into Administration
Embattled UK retailer Clinton Cards has gone into administration, putting thousands of jobs at risk.
The group, which is the UK's biggest specialist cards retailer and operates 628Clintons and 139 Birthdays stores, collapsed into administration after failingto find a buyer for all or parts of the business.
Administrators at Zolfo Cooper said the group had made losses of £130m since 2004 and it was "likely that a number of stores would need to be closed to make the business financially viable".
Shares in the company, which employs more than 8,000 staff, were suspended on the London Stock Exchange this morning.
The move came after its banks - Barclays and taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland - sold the company's £35m of loans to its biggest supplier, American Greetings, which initiated the move into administration.
Clinton's collapse comes as another blow to the UK High Street after recent high-profile casualties, including video games retailer Game Group, fashion chain Peacocks and outdoor specialist Blacks Leisure.
The card retailer has suffered dire trading in recent months as it comes up against stiff competition from supermarkets and online retailers such as Moonpig, which sell personalised cards.
It recorded a pre-tax loss of £3.7m in the 26 weeks to the end of January, compared with a profit of £11.7m in the previous year, and warned that the second half of the year would be below expectations.
Its shares have lost more than 80% of their value since the start of 2010.
Today it revealed more poor trading for the 14 weeks since January 29, with same-store sales down 3.5%.
Retailing analyst Nick Bubb told Sky News that the UK card market was shrinking and Clintons was also losing market share to competitiors.
"They have a lot of very high rent stores so the losses are worsening," he said.
Mr Bubb added: "Suppliers can probably see the writing on the wall, as happened with Game Group."
The Clintons chain was founded in 1968 when Don Lewin opened the first store in Epping in Essex.
It had 77 outlets when it floated on the stock market in 1988.
The number was swelled by numerous acquisitions including Hallmark Cards and the Birthdays Group, which had 170 stores, in 2004.
The latest survey from the British Retail Consortium shows the biggest fall in high street sales for more than a year last month.