US suitor makes deal which will save 397 Clinton Cards stores
A US buyer yesterday stepped in to acquire the remains of high street retailer Clinton Cards in a deal which will save 397 stores and 4,500 jobs.
Ohio-based American Greetings, which has been one of the group’s biggest suppliers, will take on the brands and assets of the retailer which collapsed into administration a month ago.
The sale includes 19 Clinton Cards stores in Scotland and two Birthdays outlets, in Glasgow and Inverness.
A further 19 Clinton Cards shops in Scotland and three Birthdays branches – in East Kilbride, Elgin and Kirkcaldy – are among the stores that remain in the hands of administrator Zolfo Cooper, which said last month that it would close outlets if a buyer could not be found.
Zolfo has announced the closure of around 350 stores, costing the jobs of nearly 3,000 full- and part-time staff.
American Greetings placed itself in pole position to buy the chain after it snapped up Clinton’s £35 million bank debt, making it a preferential creditor and giving it a strong position in sale talks.
The US company’s UK Greetings operation, which is based in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, has the brands Camden Graphics, Hanson White, Forget Me Not and Xpressions and supplies outlets including major supermarkets.
The final number of stores acquired will be dependent on negotiations with landlords at each location.
American Greetings’ chief executive Zev Weiss said: “We believe that properly managed, and with the appropriate capital structure, Clinton Cards can be both an important and profitable retailer in the speciality channel of distribution over the long term.”
Zolfo partner Peter Saville said there was a strong underlying business at Clinton but that the company had paid the price for “excessively ambitious” expansion plans and the impact of intense competition.
“The significant number of credible expressions of interest we received for the business, from both trade and financial buyers alike, is testament to this fact.”
Zolfo said it would now focus its efforts on the store portfolio identified for closure three weeks ago. The first 44 stores out of 350 lined up for closure shut at the end of last month. The stores being sold made £212m in sales last year, out of a total of £360m across the two brands of Clinton Cards and Birthdays.
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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