CLINTON Cards was forced to lower its forecasts for this year after a poor showing at its Irish stores.

Three months after telling investors it was on course for better-than-expected annual profits, Clinton has revealed a worsening sales picture since May.

The company, which has stores at Kingsgate and New Street in Huddersfield, said total sales were below expectations and added that adjusted profits from continuing operations in the year to the beginning of August were now likely to be similar to last year.

The company, which has about 860 stores under the Clinton Cards and Birthdays brands, said trading had been hit by the “disproportionately poor performance” in its 13 stores trading in Ireland.

Loss-making subsidiary Birthdays was put into administration last year, but profits have been helped by the group’s acquisition of the chain’s better performing stores from administrators in June and negotiations with landlords which reduced its rent bill.

Shares in the greetings card retailer fell by 7% or 17.2p to 262.2p.