May 31, 2018 / 6:58 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Tough British retail market hits Card Factory's quarterly sales

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May 31 (Reuters) - Card Factory Plc reported a 0.4 percent fall in first-quarter like for like sales, marking a reverse from the growth enjoyed in the previous 12 months, as the weak demand on the British high street took a toll.

Card Factory, which had reported full-year comparable sales growth of 2.9 percent in April, said it had suffered in the three months to April 30 as fewer customers went shopping in general.

“We have had a solid start to the year with further sales growth despite an ongoing sector trend of subdued footfall, which impacted the like-for-like performance,” Chief Executive Karen Hubbard said.

The company had said in April that it attracted more customers to its high-street stores. But many retailers were affected in March by bad weather which kept shoppers at home.

Card Factory left its full-year outlook unchanged and said it was on track to open about 50 stores in the full year.

The company said overall sales rose 3 percent helped by Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, adding that it opened 10 new stores during the quarter.

Card Factory said revenues at Cardfactory.co.uk, which sells cards for special occasions from 99 pence, is growing strongly.

In its annual report, Card Factory said sales for everyday occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries contributed nearly 54 percent of its overall revenue while the rest came from small gifts like soft toys and party products.

Gettingpersonal.com, its smaller online business that sells personalised gifts ranging from mugs and frames to even wine, has been hurt by steep discounting and the higher cost of attracting customers.

“Trading performance at Getting Personal has continued to be disappointing”, the company said. (Reporting by Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; editing by Kate Holton)

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