Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Mothercare overcomes bumpy patch as sales lift

Mothercare said it was on a "firmer footing" after jettisoning loss-making retail stores and posting better-than-expected sales figures.

The group, which is 12 months into a three-year restructuring plan, overcame snow-bound conditions to report flat UK like-for-like sales in the 11 weeks to March 30, compared with a decline of 6% in the previous quarter.

It has shut 56 poorly-performing stores in the past year, with the loss of 7% of its trading space offset by much stronger internet sales after Mothercare's Direct in Home operation grew revenues 18.2% in the period.

The company now trades from 255 stores, including 59 Early Learning Centre outlets, under a plan to have a 200-strong estate by 2015.

Mothercare's turnaround plan, overseen by chief executive Simon Calver, also focuses on driving international expansion.

The overseas division opened another 115 stores and increased space by 13.5% in the last year, while sales were up 15.5% in the quarter to the end of March.

Shares were up 7% after yesterday's UK sales figure came in ahead of expectations.