Mothercare like-for-like sales up 0.3% in UK
In the 13 weeks to 13 October, UK like-for-like sales edged up 0.3% compared to a fall of 6.7% in the first quarter. Online sales also returned to growth, rising 11% in the period following the transition to a new online platform. However, total sales in the UK dropped 6.2% in the quarter as a result of the retailer’s planned store closure programme.
The group, which operates 203 Mothercare stores and 77 Early Learning Centres in the UK, closed 31 stores in the first six months of the year as part of its turnaround strategy, against a target of 50 closures for the year.
The wider group, which has 1,098 international stores, saw total sales fall by 7.5% as the impact of the UK store closures offset a 10.8% increase in international sales.
Mothercare's performance in Asia Pacific and the Middle East & Africa continued to be at the top end of expectations with the group predicting further growth overseas based on its forward order book and store opening plans. Performance in Europe was weaker, especially in the Eurozone markets.
The group opened a net 70 stores during the first half of the year and said its full year target of 150 store openings remained on track.
Simon Calver, chief executive of Mothercare, said: "Our strategy outlined in May this year is showing early signs of progress. In the UK, we have put the customer back at the heart of what we do. This is already beginning to have a beneficial impact on like-for-like sales, which along with our online business have returned to growth. International continues to grow despite difficult trading conditions in the Eurozone and adverse currency movements.
"We recognise that our most important quarter which includes Christmas is still ahead of us. We are confident about delivering against the targets we set out in our three-year plan."
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