Mothercare sales down but recovery going to plan

Infants retailer Mothercare closed 56 loss-making stores in the year to end-March as chief executive Simon Calver's recovery plan builds steam.

Infants retailer Mothercare closed 56 loss-making stores in the year to end-March as chief executive Simon Calver's recovery plan builds steam.

Total group sales fell 6.0% in the 52 weeks to March 31st, with a 15% rise in international sales at constant currencies not enough to counterbalance a 9.0% fall in total UK sales.

Underlying profit before tax, to be released in the full year 2013 results, would therefore be in line with market expectations.

Encouragingly, UK like-for-likes were down a lesser 3.6%, supported by strong double-digit growth in the fourth quarter from the Direct in Home online business, and the contraction in total sales slowed to 4.8%n in the fourth quarter.

The international business opened 115 stores and increased space by 13.5% during the year, such that it now operates from 1,069 stores across 60 countries, while the administrator decided to close all the group's associate Australia and New Zealand stores, in which it had a 23% stake.

A third of the way into his three-year "Transformation and Growth plan", Calver says he believes the business is already on a "firmer footing", boosted by the arrival of new Chief Financial Officer Matt Smith in mid-March to complete the new executive team.

He concluded: "So despite our continuing caution with regards to the outlook for consumer spending in the UK and the Eurozone, we can look ahead to the new year with confidence."

OH

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