Page last updated at 14:05 GMT, Thursday, 21 May 2009 15:05 UK

Birthdays chain in administration

Birthdays branch
The news comes despite rising sales at the Birthdays chain

Retailer Clinton Cards has put its subsidiary chain of 223 Birthdays stores into administration, putting more than 2,000 jobs at risk.

The company said the Birthdays outlets would continue to trade while options to secure their future were explored. The news saw Clinton's shares rise 30%.

Clinton said that in the current economic environment it could not sustain Birthdays' £7m annual losses.

It bought the Bury-based Birthdays chain in December 2004.

'Remain hopeful'

"Despite today's announcement, I would like to reassure customers that it is business as usual for Birthdays and we will be continuing to trade while we explore all options for the business," said administrator Peter Saville of accountancy group Zolfo Cooper.

This removes a loss-making business, which was not expected to recover in the short-term
David Stoddart of Altium

"We remain hopeful of securing the future of the business despite the harsh trading environment being experienced by all retailers at present.

"These stores have a strong brand identity and are predominantly situated in excellent retail locations and there are still plenty of opportunities to succeed on the High Street".

The administration announcement came as Clinton said like-for-like sales - which pulls out the impact of new store openings - actually rose 2.3% for the Birthdays brand in the 13 weeks to 3 May.

This compared with a fall of 0.6% at the 692 Clinton Cards outlets.

A spokesman for Clinton explained that while sales have recently risen at Birthdays, the subsidiary chain remained loss-making.

The most recent turnover figures for the two chains, showed that in the six months to 1 February the Clinton business made a profit of £16.8m, while losses at Birthdays totalled £2.7m.

Retail analyst David Stoddart of Altium said he understood the decision to offload the Birthdays stores.

"This removes a loss-making business, which was not expected to recover in the short-term," he said.

Clinton's shares were up 30% or five pence to 21.75p in morning trading.

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