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Mothercare's UK like-for-likes up 6.5%

Mothercare’s UK like-for-like sales grew by 6.5% in the 13 weeks to October 10 driven by strong online trading, but its international business continued to suffer from currency headwinds.

In the UK, online sales were up 20.4% on the same period last year.

The retailer said it continued to sell a high proportion of its product at full price, leading to further growth in gross margins.

Ten UK stores closed, three opened and six were refurbished during the quarter. It now has 173 UK stores, 20% of which will have been modernised by Christmas.

International sales returned to underlying growth, but continue to face “significant foreign currency headwinds”.

Overseas retail sales in constant currencies were up 5.6%, benefitting from the delayed end-of-season Sale into the second quarter due to the timing of Ramadan and Eid. However, retail sales were down 5.3% in actual currencies.

During the quarter Mothercare opened 11 international stores, bringing the total to 1,310.

Worldwide sales were down 2.8% and total group sales down 7.1%, reflecting the store closures in the UK and currency headwinds internationally.

Chief executive Mark Newton-Jones said: “The second quarter results are in line with our full year expectations. The UK is continuing to benefit from our strategic initiatives both online and in store, while international has seen the expected improvement in trading.

“While international markets remain volatile, our franchise partners continue to have confidence and have added further space during the period. However, foreign currency continues to be a significant headwind.

“In the UK our digital strategy resulted in strong double-digit growth of online sales, which in turn contributed to the growth in like-for-like sales.

“Our improved and exclusive product ranges in home and travel and clothing and footwear are supporting our full-price trading approach. As a result we were able to go into our end-of-season Sale with less product at discount and so delay the start of the sale until the second quarter.

“These results give us further confidence in our strategy, but there is much more to be done.”

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