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Mothercare sales pass £1bn

Maternity specialist Mothercare passed the £1bn sales mark for the first time in the year to March 27 but profits narrowly missed City expectations.

Group retail sales came in at £1.1bn. Mothercare’s total UK sales rose 2% to £590.3m.

UK retail sales were up 3% on a like-for-like basis, which Mothercare chief executive Ben Gordon described as “robust”.

Wholesale sales in the UK saw a 78% growth to £4.8m.

Profits from the UK operations were up 4% to £36.1m. Total group underlying profits were up 16.6% to £52m.

Network sales – which include those made by overseas franchise partners to customers – climbed 10% to £1.1bn. However, the underlying pre-tax profit of £37.2m was below the advance consensus of £38.5m.

Mothercare’s international business, which comprises 1,115 stores in 52 countries, had a record year, said Gordon. Total international sales soared 21.4% resulting in a 40.6% profit rise.

However, Gordon remained cautious about the trading outlook.

He said: “The year finished with a more challenging consumer environment in the UK and strong growth in international. We expect this pattern to continue into 2010/11 and we are planning cautiously.”

Mothercare’s overseas operations, strong cash flow and lack of debt all mean the business is well positioned, said Gordon.

Initiatives launched by Mothercare last year included a deal to supply children’s clothing to 400 Boots stores and a joint venture in India, where there are 32 franchised Mothercare stores at present and plans for 200 eventually.

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