Belfast Telegraph

Mothercare shares rise after retailer posts profits for first time in five years

Mothercare shares rose 5% after the retailer reported its first full-year profits for five years as the company's turnaround under chief executive Mark Newton-Jones begins to yield results.

The firm said that pre-tax profit came in at £9.7 million compared with a loss of £13.1 million last year as "digitally enabled millennials" helped drive growth.

Like-for-like sales in the UK rose 3.6% and online sales rocketed by 15%.

Mr Newton-Jones said: "The results highlight the significant progress we are making towards returning the UK to profitability.

"Improvements to our customer offer, both in store and online, and the look and feel of the store estate are driving like-for-like sales growth for a second consecutive year."

Despite the group profit, the firm still posted a £6.4 million loss in the UK. At its international arm, Mothercare's underlying profit came in at £40.3 million, a fall of 12%.

Mr Newton-Jones added: "Conditions for our international business remain challenging. The issues are primarily at a macro level, with economic and currency headwinds persisting.

"Whilst we recognise these pressures, we believe that we can also make some improvements in how we operate."

Mothercare closed 19 underperforming stores over the year and revamped 47 stores, adding cafes and play zones to cater for parents wanting to "relax over a coffee while their toddlers have a run around in a fully supervised play zone".

Speaking to the Press Association, Mr Newton-Jones added: "Clouds have gathered over our international business, this is linked to big macro economic events that are out of or control.

"Oil-based economies, such as Russia and in the Middle East, have suffered, and China has seen a decline in consumer sentiment. But we are not sitting idle."

The chief executive also shrugged off uncertainty surrounding the Brexit vote, saying that Mothercare had seen "no impact at all" on its business.

"We've seen no impact at all from Brexit uncertainty. Brexit isn't on the radar of a mother coming into our store to buy a buggy. We are not economists and not politicians, but we are well equipped to deal with anything that comes our way."