Card Factory completes £225m refinancing as store sales exceed expectations
The Wakefield-based Card Factory today revealed it had completed a £225m refinancing and has recorded a strong trading performance in its stores.
The specialist retailer of greeting cards, dressings and gifts, provided an update on trading following the re-opening of non-essential retail as lockdown restrictions are eased.
The statement said: "We welcomed our colleagues and customers back into our stores in England and Wales (12 April), Scotland (26 April), Northern Ireland (30 April) and the Republic of Ireland (17 May).
"Initial store sales performance exceeded both our expectations and the sales performance realised after reopening following the first and second lockdowns. Initial strong demand has been satisfied, with store like-for-like sales for the first five weeks marginally down compared to the same period in 2019."
The statement added: "To date, increased spend per transaction has primarily offset the reduced retail footfall: customers are shopping less frequently but buying more. We continue to monitor changes to customer behavior to meet their needs. Our Everyday Card and party ranges have performed strongly, with a clear early trend of customers shopping more evenly during the week.
"Sales from the online channels have fallen, as expected, as customers have also been able to shop in our stores, albeit online sales are still exceeding pre-pandemic levels, with performance in line with management expectations."
The company also confirmed it had completed a refinancing with its existing commercial banking syndicate.
The increased bank facilities of £225m provide additional liquidity above the original £200m it replaces, and is for the same term through to 24 September 2023, with provision for a potential extension.
Darcy Willson-Rymer, the Chief Executive, said: "I am pleased we have secured increased banking facilities, which afford the group the headroom required to focus on realising the growth strategy. In particular, enhancing our card-led proposition through all sales channels and accelerating the increase in our capability and capacity to fulfil sales demand via our online channel, and so capitalise upon the move to online adopted by more customers over the last year.
"We welcome our colleagues and customers back into our stores, providing the quality ranges at competitive prices which our customers have missed whilst stores were closed. As national restrictions are eased, we continue to prioritise providing a safe working and shopping environment in all our stores.
"The strong trading performance in our stores over the last few weeks reflects the extensive preparations to maximise meeting our customers' needs completed by the wider Card Factory team."