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Sales slip at Mothercare

Sales at Mothercare fell in the first quarter as the mother and baby retailer completed its accelerated store closure programme.

UK like-for-like sales were down by 8.8% in the 12-week period to 30 March.

Mothercare completed its UK store closure plans ahead of schedule during the quarter. It has closed 40 stores over the past three months. As of the beginning of April, it operates 80 stores, down from 137 last year.

International retail sales were down by 4.9% on a constant currency basis.

The retailer said it had been hit by economic and trading challenges in the Middle East but experienced growth in the quarter across India, Russia and Indonesia.

Mothercare also announced the sale of toy retailer the Early Learning Centre for £13.5m during the quarter, which it said will allow the business to reduce debt and focus on its core strategy.

Mark Newton-Jones, chief executive officer of Mothercare, said: “The UK store closure programme has been completed ahead of schedule and we now have 80 stores in operation, down from 137 stores a year ago. While this has been a difficult but necessary process, to right-size the UK, it has meant that we have had to say goodbye to many loyal and longstanding colleagues. Their approach and professionalism have been outstanding right until the last day of operation, for which we thank them sincerely.

“The disruption we have seen from both the organisational changes and the UK store closures is now largely behind us. We expect a continued impact on our business given the volume of clearance stock we have sold in recent months. Against this background, we remain on track to deliver on our full-year expectations.”

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