5:38pm Thursday 7th June 2012
By Matt Smith
DOZENS of Hampshire jobs have been saved after the remains of high street chain Clinton Cards have been snapped up by an American greetings cards firm.
Ohio-based American Greetings, which has been one of Clinton's biggest suppliers, will take on the brands and assets of the retailer, which collapsed into administration a month ago.
The deal saves 4,500 jobs and 397 stores, including those at Southampton’s WestQuay shopping centre, Eastleigh’s Swan Centre, Lymington High Street, Festival Place in Basingstoke, Andover and Portsmouth.
Zolfo Cooper, the administrator, has already announced the closure of around 350 stores, costing the jobs of nearly 3,000 full-and part-time staff.
The first 44 stores out of 350 lined up for closure shut at the end of last month including two Clinton stores in Winchester, along with Birthdays stores in Southampton and Portsmouth.
Clinton stores in Shirley in Southampton, Fareham and Ringwood remain with the administrator which said it was still open to offers.
American Greetings placed itself in pole position to buy the chain after it snapped up Clinton's £35 million bank debt, making it a preferential creditor and giving it a strong position in sale talks.
The stores being sold made £212 million in sales last year, out of a total of £360 million across the two brands of Clinton Cards and Birthdays.
Clinton Cards, the UK's largest specialist retailer of greetings cards, was founded by chairman Don Lewin in Epping, Essex, in 1968.
Its collapse served as another blow to the high street after recent high-profile casualties including video games retailer Game Group, fashion chain Peacocks and outdoor specialist Blacks Leisure.
American Greetings dates back more than 100 years and generates annual revenues of £1.1 billion from brands including Carlton Cards, Gibson and Papyrus.
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