Clintons card chain secures rescue deal to safeguard 2,500 jobs

By Holly Williams, PA Deputy City Editor

Around 2,500 jobs have been secured at Clintons after the greetings card chain was sold back to its existing owners as part of a rescue deal.

The high street retailer went into administration and then was immediately sold to Esquire Retail – a new firm set up and controlled by the Weiss family, which has owned Clintons for seven years.

Administrators KPMG said the so-called pre-pack administration will safeguard all Clintons’ 2,500 employees and ensure its 334 stores can continue to trade throughout the crucial Christmas season.

It comes after Clintons faced mounting cash flow pressures in the face of challenging high street trading conditions, according to KPMG.

The deal also marks the second time Clintons has gone into administration in seven years.

Owners the Weiss family had been looking for an exit with a possible sale of Clintons, but the chain had also been holding talks with landlords over a possible company voluntary arrangement (CVA) to shut stores and slash rents.

Eddie Shepherd, chief executive of Clintons, said: “Despite receiving support from a number of landlords, we were unfortunately unable to secure the requisite support needed to successfully launch our proposals.

“With no other investment options available, we therefore had to take the difficult step to place the company into administration.”

But he said the group was “pleased to have been able to secure the future of the Clintons business” through the pre-pack deal.

“We are confident that this deal will kickstart a new chapter for our business,” he said.

Clintons – formerly known as Clinton Cards – went bust seven years ago, sparking thousands of job losses and hundreds of store closures.

The Weiss family took control of Clintons through its American Greetings business in 2012.

It has focused on closing Clintons loss-making stores, updating others and cutting costs by reducing rents with landlords.

According to accounts, the Weiss family also injected £20 million into Clintons last year, and offered a 15 million US dollar (£11.4 million) loan note to be used as required.

But the family has moved away from the greetings card market – selling off 60% of American Greetings – the second-biggest card maker in the US after Hallmark – to a private equity firm last year.

Clintons was founded by Don Lewin in Epping, Essex, in 1968.

Before its collapse in 2012, it had nearly 800 stores and employed more than 8,000 staff in total.