Results attributed to weak international performance after UK sales increase.
Mothercare plc has reported a 12.2% drop in total group sales in the fourth quarter as a weak performance in its international business offset growth in the UK. The retailer said that international sales in constant currency fell 1.7% in the 11 weeks to 25 March, although factoring in the benefits of a weaker pound, international sales increased by 15.4%. While the international division saw strong sales in China, Indonesia and Russia, economic conditions in the Middle East are said to have remained challenging. The company opened 144 stores and closed 116 abroad, ending the quarter with 1,338 stores, marking a 0.9% increase in space by square footage.
In the UK, there was a different picture: total sales rose 3.2%, while on a like-for-like basis the increase was 4.5%, driven by online sales growth of 13.6%. Online sales now account for 41% of Mothercare’s total UK sales. The group ended the quarter with 152 stores in the UK, which represents a 5.9% decrease in space. Over the past two years the company has refurbished 70% of its stores and the customer database now has more than three million people.
Chief executive Mark Newton-Jones commented: “Following a solid final quarter, our overall group performance remains broadly in line with market expectations for the year. We continue to export our learnings from the UK and as a result, have launched ten new websites this year, bringing our total to 21 countries now trading online. We still see many opportunities in existing and new markets around the world that are open to us.”