Creditor in deal for Clinton shops

Sold: Clinton Cards in Chesterfield has been bought by Lakeshore Lending
Sold: Clinton Cards in Chesterfield has been bought by Lakeshore Lending
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ELEVEN Clinton Cards shops in the region have been saved after administrators found a buyer, but two more have closed and the fate of three hang in the balance.

Lakeshore Lending, a subsidiary of American Greetings Corporation, snapped up 397 stores on Friday in a deal which saves 4,500 jobs across the UK.

The Ohio-based company, one of Clinton’s biggest suppliers and a major creditor, will take on the brands and assets of the retailer.

But two Birthdays shops - a Clinton brand - at Meadowhall and Crystal Peaks were among 43 that closed on Friday, 44 closed last month.

A further three locally are among 330 still in the hands of administrators Zolfo Cooper: Clintons at Old Town Hall Rotherham and Warehouse Sheffield, and Pure Party - another Clintons brand - at Parkgate Rotherham.

A Zolfo Cooper spokeswoman said they would remain up for sale but would close if no buyer could be found. No timetable was given.

Clintons had nearly 800 stores and 8,000 staff when it collapsed into administration a month ago.

American Greetings placed itself in pole position to buy the chain after it snapped up Clinton’s £35m bank debt, making it a preferential creditor and giving it a strong position in sale talks.

Chief executive 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 company’s UK operation, which is based in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, has the brands Camden Graphics, Hanson White, Forget Me Not and Xpressions and supplies outlets including major supermarkets.

The final number of stores acquired will depend on negotiations with landlords at each location.

Zolfo Cooper partner Peter Saville said there was a strong underlying business, with the company paying the price for ‘excessively ambitious’ expansion plans and the impact of intense competition.

He said: “The significant number of credible expressions of interest we received for the business we have sold, from both trade and financial buyers alike, is testament to this fact.”

The 11 regional stores sold to Lakeshore Lending are: Queen Street Barnsley; Fargate, Crystal Peaks, Hillsborough and Meadowhall in Sheffield; High Street and Vicar Lane in Chesterfield and stores in Doncaster and Worksop. Also Birthdays at Lakeside Doncaster and in Gainsborough.