Dozens of Sunderland and Durham jobs saved after card shop rescue

Clinton Cards
Clinton Cards
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DOZENS of jobs have been saved after high-street store Clinton Cards was brought back from the brink from collapse.

Last month, drastically falling figures from the greetings card giant led to urgent action when bosses called in the administrators.

Workers at Clinton branches in The Bridges, Sunderland, The Galleries, Washington, and two stores in Durham City feared for their jobs.

But it has now been announced that US greeting card company Lakeshore Lending, a subsidiary of American Greetings, has snapped up the brand and its assets.

On May 9, the company was placed into administration after Clinton’s banks – Barclays and taxpayer-backed RBS – sold the company’s loans of £35million to its biggest supplier, American Greetings.

American Greetings said its intention was to push the company, which employs 8,000 people nationally at 628 Clinton and 139 Birthday stores, into administration.

A week later, it was revealed that 350 stores would close, with the loss of 3,000 full or part-time jobs, but now they will be saved.

American Greetings boss Zev Weiss said: “We are pleased to welcome these stores, the Clinton Cards brand, and the approximately 4,500 employees as members of the American Greetings family.

“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.

“The separation of the acquired assets and business from the legal entity in administration is an important first step of this process.

“We have also lined up a leadership team to run the new UK subsidiary that has extensive speciality retail channel experience.”

Clinton has reported poor trading figures in recent months after coming up against fierce competition from online retailers, including Funky Pigeon and Moonpig.

The business recorded a pre-tax loss of £3.7million in the 26 weeks to January 29 this year, compared to a profit of £11.7million in the previous year.

Its shares have lost more than 80 per cent of their value since the start of 2010.

The chain was founded in 1968, when Don Lewin opened the first store in Epping, Essex.

In 1988, it had 77 stores when it floated on the stock market.

Its store numbers swelled when the firm acquired Hallmark Cards and the BirthdaysGroup, which had 170 stores, in 2004.

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