Fate of card stores yet to be decided

Clinton Cards in Station Road, Ashington.
Clinton Cards in Station Road, Ashington.

CLINTON Cards stores in south east Northumberland are facing an uncertain future after administrators Zolfo Cooper moved in to close hundreds of outlets across the country.

The chain, which includes subsidiary Birthdays Retail Ltd, has stores in Ashington, Blyth and Morpeth and is said by Zolfo to be “burdened by untenable retail estate”.

As a result 350 stores – 200 of them the Clinton brand – out of 784 nation-wide face the axe with the potential loss of 2,800 full and part-time staff.

The store closure programme began this week and is set to continue into June.

The administrator has not yet confirmed the exact locations, timings and employee numbers involved in the closures.

Staff at the Blyth store declined to comment, while staff at the Station Road branch in Ashington said they had heard no news as of Tuesday morning.

Peter Saville, joint administrator and partner at Zolfo Cooper, said: “Given the sheer size of the Clinton Cards retail estate and the overall performance, we were left with no alternative.

“I am hopeful that the action we have taken will allow us to preserve value in the core underlying business, thereby allowing us and potential buyers to focus on a profitable and viable retail estate going forward.”

The collapse of the company is being blamed on the sale two weeks ago of its £35m loan debt by Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland to American Greetings, which immediately decided to enforce repayment.