Clinton in the red as 'South Park' craze wanes

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A slump in demand for merchandise associated with Channel 4's South Park series contributed to a half-year loss at Clinton Cards, the gifts and greeting cards retailer said yesterday.

A slump in demand for merchandise associated with Channel 4's South Park series contributed to a half-year loss at Clinton Cards, the gifts and greeting cards retailer said yesterday.

The group reported a pre-tax loss before goodwill of £0.5m for the six months ended 30 July as the popularity of the cartoon programme's foul-mouthed characters waned. That compared to a profit of £0.61m the previous year. Clinton shares closed down 13.5p at 89p, hitting a year low.

Clinton Lewin, the card chain's managing director, said last year's enthusiasm for South Park-branded gifts had not been replaced by any similar trend this year.

Earnings were also hit by an extra £130,000 spending on TV advertising and a £147,000 one-off charge from asset disposals.

Mr Lewin said: "It would have been nice to continue with the interim profit of last year ... [But] the pendulum can swing either way. It is not a worry to me or the board." Sales for the seven weeks to 17 September have so far been strong, showing a like-for-like increase of 4 per cent. Analysts are predicting full-year profits of £19m.

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