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UPDATE 1-Card Factory says H2 sales recovering, gives no outlook

(Adds details on sales, outlook, CEO)

Sept 29 (Reuters) - Britain’s Card Factory said on Tuesday it has had an encouraging start to the second-half of the fiscal year as its stores reopened, but could not provide a forecast for the rest of the year as it faced the impact of a new wave of coronavirus lockdowns.

“In the short term, as well publicised, recovery in the retail sector remains sensitive to spikes in COVID-19 cases and potential local or national restrictions, creating uncertainty about customer footfall and shopping habits,” the company said.

It was too early to determine whether consumers’ basket mix and average spend patterns, in-store and online, will continue or settle back to pre-pandemic levels, the company added.

Like-for-like sales fell 6.9% for the four weeks to Sept. 20.

Card Factory, which permanently shut 11 stores in its first-half, posted online like-for-like revenue growth of 64.4% for the period and said it would launch a mobile app before the end of the year as part of its digital shift.

The cards and gifts retailer posted a pretax loss of 22.2 million pounds ($28.56 million) for the six months ended July 31, compared to a profit of 24.3 million pounds a year earlier.

The Wakefield-based company said its search for a new top boss was on track after Karen Hubbard, its chief executive officer for four years, stepped down earlier this year.

$1 = 0.7774 pounds Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi

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