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Gloom for East Lancashire workers as Clinton Cards stores collapse
THE UK’s biggest card retailer is set to lose its battle to stay open after its largest supplier said it will force it into administration.
Clinton Cards, which employs 8,000 people and has branches in Blackburn, Burnley, Clitheroe and Chorley, ran into trouble after recording a pre-tax loss of £3.7 million in the six months leading to January 29, compared with a profit of £11.7 million in the previous year.
The company is said to have suffered from stiff competition from supermarkets and the growth of online retailers like Moonpig and Funky Pigeon.
The move comes after the card shop’s banks sold the company’s £35 million of loans to its biggest supplier, American Greetings.
It is understood that administrators will continue to run the stores as normal while seeking a buyer for the business, but that a large number of stores could be closed.
Its fall is another blow to the high street and follows the decline of high-profile stores like video games ret-ailer Game Group, fashion chain Peacocks and outdoor specialist Blacks Leisure.
Mike Damms, chief executive of the East Lancashrie Chamber of Trade, said the company needed to be brought up to date if it hoped to be able to come back.
He said: “It is sad because it is a household name and I just wish the staff well and hope the company comes through.
“Clintons clearly have been getting into difficulty for a while and what a lot of markets seem to be saying is that it is a difficult market but they have not modernised like other shops.
“Your heart does feel for the staff concerned — it has been successful on the high street for the last 40 years so there is obviously something sound at the core.”
Clintons has 628 stores nationwide, as well as 139 Birthdays outlets.