Belfast Telegraph

Revamped website credited for Mothercare's sales surge

Retailer Mothercare cheered surging sales in the UK as a website overhaul helped drive its best performance for 18 months.

The babycare chain saw like-for-like sales across the UK rise by 4.5% in its final quarter to March 25 thanks to a 13.6% jump in online sales.

It marked a sharp rise on the 1% growth seen in its Christmas quarter and its highest sales hike since the second quarter of 2015/16.

Mothercare said it had seen a good response to its new website, with online sales now accounting for around 41% of UK sales, while it added spring/summer ranges had been well-received.

The group is also seeing the fruits of a store revamp plan, having refurbished 70% of its UK shops in the past two years.

A boost from the Brexit-hit pound on its overseas earnings offset ongoing tough trading in international markets, where sales surged 15.4% in the 11 weeks to March 25 but fell 1.7% on a constant currency basis.

The group said sales were strong across China, Indonesia and Russia, helped by exchange rates, though it said economic conditions in the Middle East were still "challenging".

Mark Newton-Jones, chief executive of Mothercare, said it had been a "solid" quarter for the group.

He added: "We have made further progress in the period, with the UK performing particularly well on a like-for-like basis.

"Customers' response to our spring/summer ranges has been positive, as has the feedback on the new website and our new store environment."

Shares lifted as much as 5% after the update.

Mothercare returned to sales growth over its festive quarter, following difficult conditions earlier in 2016, when sales were knocked by poor weather and a warehouse overhaul.

The group also warned last year that prices may have to rise by between 3% and 5% from the middle of 2017 as it faces surging costs from the pound's plunge.

Mr Newton-Jones said in November the group had negotiated with suppliers to reduce the price impact by a third, while the company itself will take on around a third of the extra costs, with the rest passed on to customers.

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