Fears for jobs as card chain folds

The latest possible high street casualty, Clinton Cards.'9-5-2012
The latest possible high street casualty, Clinton Cards.'9-5-2012
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RETAILER Clinton Cards has collapsed into administration, putting all the jobs at its Blackpool store in jeopardy.

More than 8,000 jobs across the country at 628 Clinton, and 139 Birthdays stores are vulnerable, after the chain became the latest high street casualty of the economic downturn.

Administrators at Zolfo Cooper said the group, the UK’s biggest specialist card retailer, 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.”

The news is the latest blow to Blackpool’s town centre, following the loss of other high street names including Peacocks and Game.

Warwick Tunnicliffe, of the St John’s and Cedar Square Traders Association, said any retailer leaving Blackpool was bad news.

He added: “Obviously any loss is not good for the town.

“The fact it’s happening all over the country doesn’t make it any better.

“We all have to try and keep our costs down and survive what is obviously an extremely difficult time - and I fear we haven’t hit the bottom yet.”

Clinton’s plight was sealed after its banks - Barclays and taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland - sold the company’s £35m of loans to its biggest supplier American Greetings, which enforced the debt.

Peter Saville, joint-administrator at Zolfo, said there was a strong underlying business.

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

Coun Graham Cain, cabinet member for tourism and culture, as well as a member of the Blackpool Town Centre Business Improvement District, added: “It must a very worrying time for the staff who are employed by Clintons.

“Unfortunately we’ve lost a number of big names from the high street recently. I hope the business and jobs can be saved.”