Card Factory today says it will use a £225m refinancing in part to invest in its ecommerce business, at a time when its customers seem more likely to buy online than before the pandemic.
The retailer says as its shops have gradually reopened over the last six weeks from the latest Covid-19 lockdowns, it has met “initial strong demand,” with sales in-store only slightly lower than pre-pandemic 2019 levels. Online sales, meanwhile, have been higher than before the pandemic – but lower than during lockdown. Customers, it says, are now buying more in each transaction but doing so less often and as a result, increased spending is offsetting reduced footfall. It is continuing to monitor changes in the way shoppers buy in order to meet heir needs.
Card Factory, ranked Top500 in RXUK Top500 research, says today’s trading update that it has put in place a £225m refinancing with its existing lenders that will free it to focus on its future growth strategy. That strategy includes strengthening both Card Factory’s online customer experience - and its capacity to fulfil online sales demand. The retailer now plans a £70m equity raise in order to help manage its lending repayments.
Darcy Willson-Rymer, chief executive of Card Factory, says: “I am pleased we have secured increased banking facilities, which afford the group the headroom required to focus on realising the growth strategy. In particular, enhancing our card-led proposition through all sales channels and accelerating the increase in our capability and capacity to fulfil sales demand via our online channel, and so capitalise upon the move to online adopted by more customers over the last year.
“We welcome our colleagues and customers back into our stores, providing the quality ranges at competitive prices which our customers have missed whilst stores were closed. As national restrictions are eased, we continue to prioritise providing a safe working and shopping environment in all our stores. The strong trading performance in our stores over the last few weeks reflects the extensive preparations to maximise meeting our customers’ needs completed by the wider Card Factory team.”
Card Factory sells online and through more than 1,000 shops in the UK and Republic of Ireland.