Clinton Cards has announced that it is entering administration, with many blaming online retailers and e-cards for its demise.
The company, which has 628 shops and 139 Birthdays outlets, was in debt to both Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland to the tune of £35m.
However, it was the sale of this debt to its largest supplier, American Greetings, which set the ball rolling to administration, as the US firm called in the loan and pushed the card retailer over the edge.
Now, 8,000 employees’ jobs are on the line, including those in the IT department, and the future for Clinton Cards is uncertain.
The company dealing with the administration process, Zolfo Cooper, has admitted a number of stores are likely to close, but is hoping a buyer will emerge for the struggling retailer, which has made losses of £130m since 2004. There is even a chance American Greetings will put in a bid for the firm.
However, Clinton Cards was in trouble long before the lender came knocking.
The rise of online shopping has been blamed for taking shoppers away from the high street, but card retailers have also had to deal with the competition from online customisable offerings, such as MoonPig.com and FunkyPigeon.com.
Matthew Stych, research manager at Planet Retail, claimed the high prices charged by Clinton Cards were leading shoppers to turn to supermarkets for cheap alternatives, but also online to get more for their money.
“I think the main problem for Clinton Cards is that it’s offering fairly standard [and] fairly mainstream merchandise… for fairly premium prices,” he told ITV.
“Those consumers that are willing to pay a little bit extra for something special will probably turn towards a site like MoonPig.com for a customised alternative,” said Stych.
We attempted to contact Clinton Cards about its online strategy, but the retailer was not available to comment.
This is the latest in a line of high-profile high street firms going into administration, including Game and Peacocks, which both suffered from the rise of cheap supermarket alternatives and online rivals.