UK card chain to open trial Irish shops
UK high street retailer Card Factory has said that it plans to open a number of trial stores in Ireland later this year.
It told shareholders of the plan at its annual general meeting in London yesterday.
The stock market-listed chain has been plotting an entry into the Irish market for a number of years, but the plan gained fresh impetus under CEO Karen Hubbard, who was appointed to the role last year.
Ms Hubbard recently told investors that there is a "clear opportunity" for the business to expand in Ireland.
"Our trial entry into the market in the Republic of Ireland is progressing well, and we anticipate opening a small number of trial stores later this year in addition to our normal 50 net new stores in the UK," the company said yesterday.
At the beginning of February 2016, Card Factory had 814 outlets, a figure than had risen to 865 at the end of last January and 876 by the end of April.
Most of the stores are in Britain, but it also has a handful in the North.
Yesterday, the company said that its first quarter like-for-like sales were at the upper end of a targeted range of plus 1pc to plus 3pc.
Underlying group sales growth was 6.1pc in the quarter.
"Our store-opening programme remains on track and we are pleased with the performance of this year's openings, including strong initial sales from the increased proportion of openings in retail parks," Ms Hubbard told shareholders.
Shares in the company were up 1pc yesterday, giving it a market capitalisation of £1.1bn (€1.3bn).