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Sales and profits drop at Mothercare

Mothercare’s UK like-for-like sales fell 0.7% year on year in the first half as it struggled with unseasonable weather and disruptions at its warehouse.

Total UK sales dropped 2.3% year on year to £231.2m in the 28 weeks to 8 October. Its UK losses widened to £8.8m from £6.1m in the same period last year.

Mothercare said unseasonable weather during spring and summer necessitated bigger markdowns in order to shift stock. In addition, planned upgrades to its warehouse disrupted the flow of products for eight weeks during the summer. This work is now complete.

In its international business, like-for-like sales fell 2.9%. However, its profits rose 4.1% to £20.8m.

Total group sales fell 0.6% to £347.7m. Group underlying profit before tax fell 15.7% to £5.9m, and the retailer made a group loss before tax of £0.8m – compared to a £5.8m profit the year before.

Online sales were up 6.9% to £83.4m, and now comprise 40% of the total.

Despite the struggles in its UK business, Mothercare said its turnaround is “progressing strongly”.

Chief executive Mark Newton-Jones said: “We are now in the second year of the turnaround of Mothercare, and we are continuing to make major changes in the business. We have refurbished 60% of our UK store estate, upgraded our distribution and online capabilities, and completed the bulk of the unprofitable store-closure programme.”

He added: “While conditions in the first half have been challenging, the second half has started in line with our plans and the business is well prepared for the important peak season.”



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