Clinton recovers: Card company opens 23 shops

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The Independent Online
CLINTON Cards, the greetings card retailer, returned to the black in the year to January, announcing a better- than-expected pounds 2.3m pre-tax profit compared with a pounds 163,000 loss.

Don Lewin, chairman, said shoppers had returned to the high street, increasing impulse buys. Valentine's Day sales, up 9 per cent, had been encouraging.

Clinton opened 23 shops last year, compared with 10 in 1991, to take the total to 254. The group's sales area increased 6 per cent during the period helping sales rise from pounds 70.5m to pounds 80m. Like-for-like sales were up 8 per cent.

Clinton, which grew rapidly after its flotation in 1988, estimates that its share of the pounds 900m British market for greetings cards is about 7 per cent. Mr Lewin said a trend last year towards buying cards from corner shops had reversed.

The company said it was changing the way it accounts for reverse premiums - up-front payments from landlords to encourage shops to take out leases. Previously taken as profits, the payments, worth pounds 327,000 last year, are to be capitalised and depreciated over five years.

Earnings per share were 9.76p compared with a loss per share in the year to January 1992 of 0.96p. The final dividend of 2.75p makes a total for the year of 4.25p, a 13 per cent increase. The shares rose 10p to 176p.