Source - SMW
Greeting cards retailer Card Factory returned to positive like-for-like growth in the first half of the year even as weaker footfall kept a lid on growth in the second quarter during the season of Father's Day.
Fr the six months ended 31 July 2019, total group sales grew 5.5%, above the 3.2% growth seen a year earlier, and like-for-like sales increased by 1.2% following a 0.7% decline a year earlier. 
The turnaround comes on the back of a 'strong' first quarter, driven by sales in its Valentine's Day and Mother's Day seasonal ranges, the company said. 
Card Factory like-for-like sales was up 1.5%, compared with a 0.2% decline a year earlier, a robust sales performance in a challenging consumer environment.
The company reiterated that it expected to return surplus cash to shareholders towards the end of fiscal 2020.
In the first half, the company opened 26 net new UK stores, bringing the total UK estate to 991 stores, with a further seven stores in the Republic of Ireland.
'We remain on track to deliver approximately 50 net new stores in the current financial year,' it added.
Looking ahead, the company said it anticipated profits for the full year to be broadly in line with its previous expectations as it continued to make good progress on its turnaround programme.
'We have made good progress with our ongoing business efficiency programme targeted at mitigating structural cost pressures and there are further opportunities ahead,' the company said. 'However, Card Factory has incurred some additional costs related to the storage of increased stock levels, which includes preparation for the potential impact of Brexit.'