Shares of Wakefield-based greeting card and gift retailer Card Factory rose about 11% on Monday after it published a strong trading update.
“Further to the trading update in September alongside our interim results, sales performance has continued to recover, with two-year like-for-like sales (LFL) (i.e. compared to the equivalent quarter to 31 October 2019, pre-Covid) showing gradual improvement,” said Card Factory.
“Two-year store LFL was -3.0% for the quarter to 31 October 2021.
“Average basket value over this quarter continued to exceed pre-pandemic levels (+22.5% on a two-year LFL basis), offsetting the lower transaction numbers (-20.9% on a two-year LFL basis).
“Online is trading in line with our expectations, with the stronger performance of Getting Personal offsetting a reduction in sales from cardfactory.co.uk.
“Both brands continue to perform ahead of pre-pandemic levels.
“Customers are responding well to our Christmas ranges, which are selling well at this early stage of the season, leading to the accelerated introduction of the third phase of Christmas cards and complementary products into approximately 350 stores.
“A relatively small proportion of products sourced from the Far East is subject to the widely reported supply chain delays, but we believe our contingency planning will ensure any delays to store deliveries are minimised and short lived.
“Recruitment of seasonal store staff has started strongly.
“Net debt, which is typically at its annual high due to stock purchase in advance of the Christmas season, as at 31 October 2021 was £108.4 million (excluding £20.8 million of deferred rents and VAT), compared to net debt of £142.5 million (excluding £13.2 million of deferred rents and VAT) on 31 October 2020.”
Card Factory CEO Darcy Willson-Rymer said: “We continue to see improved performance of the business as customers steadily return to shopping in stores.
“This gives us confidence as we engage to realise the refreshed strategy and build our omnichannel offering.
“We look forward to the future and the continued implementation of our strategy.
“We are confident that the group is well placed to take advantage of the growth opportunities available to it.”