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Mothercare UK turns a corner but group hit by currency volatility

Mothercare’s UK operation has begun to bear the fruit of the group’s turnaround plan, recording a 1.5% rise in total sales during the fourth quarter, after consecutive declines in previous quarters.

The kidswear and maternity retailer also saw its UK like-for-likes increase 5.1% during the 11 weeks to March 28. However, currency continues to have an “adverse impact” on international sales.

Worldwide, retail sales were up 11.4% on a constant currency basis, but reduced to 5.5% on an actual currency basis owed to currency volatility.

Plans to become a digitally led business are likely to continue after online sales rocketed by 32%, accounting for 30% of its total UK sales. Mobile sales grew by 31% and click-and-collect delivery now makes up around 36% of total online orders.

Mothercare chief executive Mark Newton-Jones said reducing the number of promotions and discounts has allowed the retailer to “stabilise” its margin.

“Over the last year, we have made good progress with our strategic plan. It is still early days in our turnaround, but we are putting the foundations in place by modernising and investing in our business,” he said.

“Our international business will continue to be challenged by ongoing global economic and foreign currency volatility,” he added.

During the 52-week period, Mothercare reduced its UK estate by 4.5%, ending the year 189 stores.

Mothercare will announce its full year results on May 21.

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