Belfast Telegraph

Mothercare slashes losses as major overhaul pays off

By Roger Baird

Mothercare halved annual losses and said it boosted same store sales for the first time in five years as the babywear retailer begins to see the results of its turnaround plan.

The company, which opened a new store in Lisburn's Sprucefield this week, said like-for-like sales at its UK stores grew by 2% in the year to March 28, compared with a 1.9% fall 12 months ago.

It said it was making progress as it cut stores, reduced discounting, introduced more contemporary stock and upgraded its remaining estate. Shares lifted more than 4%.

Celebrity Myleene Klass designs a range of babywear for the brand and was at the opening of the new store in Sprucefield on Wednesday. The business said group underlying pre-tax profits jumped 37% to £13m, while its pre-tax losses narrowed to £13.1m, from £26.3m a year ago.

In the UK total sales slipped just under 1% to £458.1m as it closed 31 under-performing outlets over the period to end the year with 189 stores.

As part of its modernisation plans it said it has converted or refurbished stores in Solihull, Gateshead, Peckham, Woolwich, Surrey Quays, Cheltenham and Livingston.

Its new look gives stores digital screens and video walls, iPads, customer Wi-Fi and click and collect enhancements. It has also introduced new clothing ranges to go alongside its own Little Bird and Baby K brands, such as items from Converse Baby, French Connection, Joules and Mamas & Papas.

The business said it will refurbish between 35 and 40 stores next year and close 25 to 30 under-performing shops.

Mothercare has had a busy year, appointing new boss Mark Newton-Jones in July, and fighting off a £266m takeover approach from US rival Destination Maternity in the same month.

Mr Newton-Jones said: "This has been an extremely busy year for Mothercare. During the year we have completed a successful refinancing and we have created a new strategy with our customers in mind."

Belfast Telegraph

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