Despite sales slumping in the first quarter, Card Factory is pressing ahead with plans to open up to 50 stores this year.
The greeting card retailer was the latest victim of the ‘Beast from the East’, reporting a 0.4per cent drop in like-for-like sales in the three months to April 30 as the cold kept shoppers at home.
Overall, group sales were up 3per cent, boosted by the opening of ten stores in the first four months of the year.
Despite sales slumping in the first quarter, Card Factory is pressing ahead with plans to open up to 50 stores this year
The FTSE 250 gift seller plans to add a further 40 to its 925-strong portfolio this year, despite warnings that 2018 could be the worst year for shop closures since the financial crisis.
Separately, Card Factory’s board faced a backlash from investors over its new pay policy, which was rejected by 16per cent of shareholders at its annual meeting. The policy, which was passed, is designed to give more shares to employees over the long-term.
Karen Hubbard, chief executive of Card Factory, said the FTSE 250-listed firm is in a ‘strong position’ overall, despite the dip in sales. But analysts at Peel Hunt slashed the firm’s target price from 240p to 200p. Shares plunged 9.2per cent, or 20.1p, to 198.3p.
The FTSE 100 slipped by 0.15per cent, or 11.37 points, to 7678.20 as the US slammed the European Union with steep tariffs on steel and aluminium. The FTSE 250, on the other hand, ended yesterday slightly up, by 0.11per cent, or 23.59 points, at 20,846.26.
Britvic had a strong first-half performance in the face of a Government tax clampdown on sugary drinks
After narrowly missing out on relegation from the FTSE 100 on Wednesday, Marks & Spencer showed how difficult it will be to repeat that feat when the index is rejigged again in three months’ time. Shares flopped 4.5per cent, or 13.5p, yesterday to 284p.
Irish building materials group CRH was one of the FTSE 100’s biggest risers after launching a strategic review of its European business. It hopes the reforms, which involve a number of operational efficiencies, could generate £6.1billion of spare cash in the next four years. Shares jumped 3.2per cent, or 85p, to 2765p.
On the FTSE 250, Berenberg added a little fizz to Britvic shares after upgrading the soft drinks giant to buy and increasing its target price by 175p to 900p.
STOCK WATCH: Shearwater
Shares in the cyber security firm Shearwater boomed after it boasted yesterday of the rapid turnaround of a once-failing subsidiary.
Xcina Consulting was a struggling, loss-making consultancy firm when Shearwater bought it in July last year.
But it has won more than 30 new contracts, adding more than £1million in revenue.
Michael Stevens, chief executive, called it a ‘tremendous achievement’. Shearwater shares zoomed 6.3per cent, or 0.3p, higher to 5.1p.
The German investment bank was impressed by Britvic’s strong first-half performance in the face of a Government tax clampdown on sugary drinks. Shares edged up 0.7per cent, or 5.5p, to 809.5p.
FTSE 250-listed engineering firm Meggitt signed a £38million deal to supply wheels and brakes for Wizz Air’s new 110-strong fleet of A320neo planes and saw its shares tick up 1.1per cent, or 5.1p, to 491.7p.
Elsewhere, the shares of troubled aircraft charter firm Air Partner were temporarily suspended after it failed to publish its accounts on time.
Bosses blamed the delay on the amount of work needed to do an accounting review. In April the Gatwick firm, which employs 250 staff, found a £3.3million hole in its accounts dating back to 2011.
On AIM, shares in Albert Technologies rose 10.7per cent, or 4p, to 41.5p after the software company raised £13.6million from shareholders to fund its growth.
The boss of gold miner Keras Resources snapped up £1.4million of shares in the firm. It means Russell Lamming will own more than 60.2million shares in the firm. Keras shares were static at 0.37p.
Ariana Resources discovered nearly three times as much gold at its mine in Turkey than it previously thought it would – and shares rose 5.9per cent, or 0.08p, to 1.35p.
Investors gave short shrift to BlueRock Diamonds’ £350,000 fundraising effort to speed up exploration and repair its balance sheet. Shares bombed 22.3per cent, or 0.34p, to 1.18p.