Card Factory store in Cardiff
Christmas winner Card Factory is heaping pressure on rivals including the embattled Clintons / Image source: Adobe
  • Upgrade cycle continues
  • Christmas like-for-likes up 7.8%
  • Card Factory heaps pressure on competitors

Value-focused greeting cards and gifts retailer Card Factory (CARD) has delivered yet another earnings guidance upgrade off the back of strong Christmas sales across stores and online.

And with positive momentum building under CEO Darcy Willson-Rymer’s new strategy, Card Factory is heaping pressure on rivals including the embattled Clintons, which is reportedly heading for a restructuring with a fifth of its stores to close.

Why then, did shares in Card Factory fall 5.5% to 101.8p on the news? It seems profit-taking was at play, as the shares have rallied strongly since the back end of 2022 to reflect the retailer’s impressive post-Covid recovery.

VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS

Following a bumper festive period, Card Factory is guiding for year-to-January 2024 adjusted pre-tax profit to be at the top end of the £58.4 million to £62 million consensus range.

The celebration essentials seller’s like-for-like store sales growth accelerated to 7.8% in November and December, driven by higher basket values and increased transaction volumes and with growth nicely balanced between its card and gifting categories.

Card Factory’s expanded gift offer and the introduction of key licensed ranges led to 45% and 77% growth in soft toys and confectionary respectively, while cardfactory.co.uk registered positive growth over Christmas for the first time under Willson-Rymer’s winning strategy.

Liberum Capital also hailed the improvements in stock management and replenishment processes which enabled the retailer to cash in on particularly strong demand in the second half of December.

WHAT DID WILLSON-RYMER SAY?

Card Factory’s outstanding Christmas performance took total sales for the eleven months to December 2023 to £476.9 million, up 10.2% year-on-year reflecting the continued positive momentum across the business, with store like-for-like growth impressive at 8.2%.

The company added that recently-acquired South African cards purveyor SA Greetings ‘continues to perform in line with expectations’, having chipped in £9.1 million of sales over the 11 month period.

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Willson-Rymer explained Card Factory’s strong Christmas showing further demonstrated ‘the progress we are making on our strategic growth initiatives. Our value and quality proposition continues to resonate with customers at a time when value for money is as important as ever.

‘Even during challenging times, consumers want to celebrate key life moments and this was reflected in the positive performance that we saw in the Christmas trading period and throughout the year to date.’

WHY LIBERUM IS BULLISH

Following the update, Liberum Capital raised its full year 2024 pre-tax profit forecast by 6.3% to £62 million and its full year 2025 estimate by 4% to £66.7 million, and also upped its price target from 165p to 175p.

‘We think the market has forgotten that Card Factory at its core is a disruptive, market-leading value player,’ said the broker. ‘We would also raise a note of caution that as Card Factory builds true momentum in its online business, one should maybe be concerned for competitors such as Moonpig (MOON) and Funky Pigeon.’

LEARN ABOUT CARD FACTORY

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Issue Date: 16 Jan 2024