Fears for jobs at card shops

Jobs are under threat at five greetings card stores in the north of the county.

National chain Clinton Cards went into administration yesterday after recording a pre-tax loss of £3.7m in the 26 weeks to January 29, compared with a profit of £11.7m in the previous year.

The retailer operates 628 Clintons and 139 Birthdays stores nationwide, employing more than 8,000 people.

Locally, Clinton Cards has branches in Cheese Lane, Wellingborough; High Street, Kettering; the Newlands Centre, Kettering and Willow Place, Corby, and Birthdays also has a branch in Corporation Street, Corby.

Administrators at Zolfo Cooper said the group had made losses of £130m since 2004 and it was “likely that a number of stores would need to be closed to make the business financially viable.”

Newlands Centre manager Neil Griffin said: “There’s nothing we can do – all we can do is hope and pray they can carry on.

“It is the shop staff’s livelihoods we are worried about.”

There has been no indication about potential closures yet, although Mr Griffin said the previous two shops which closed in the centre have since been re-occupied.

Willow Place centre manager Dan Pickard said: “Clintons is still a successful business in a number of towns, including Corby.

“It is the biggest greetings name in the UK and a strong brand. We hope someone will buy it.”

Peter Saville, joint-administrator at Zolfo, said the company suffered “extremely challenging” conditions, but added there was a strong underlying business.

He said: “The challenging business environment, and in particular the increased competition for greetings cards and related products, meant that the group required radical restructuring, and administration was the last remaining option available.”