Mothercare’s boss has admitted the business “hit a bump” in the last six months, but insisted its turnaround is on track.
The retailer this morning reported a 0.7% fall in UK half-year like-for-likes and a 15.7% drop in underlying group pre-tax profits to £5.9m.
Mothercare’s share price took a hit this morning, dropping 5.8%, but chief executive Mark Newton-Jones told Retail Week that, in a challenging period, he was happy with the results.
“We are two and a half years into the turnaround of the business and we haven’t missed a beat,” he said. “We have had nine quarters of sales and margin growth.
“We’ve hit bit of a bump on the road in the last six months but we fared a hell of a lot better than most.”
“That shows the resilience built into the business by modernising it. If we hadn’t done that we would have been in the pack with the rest of them.”
Newton-Jones has been overseeing a turnaround at the specialist retailer since joining in March 2014.
This has included closing unprofitable stores and refurbishing others.
Newton-Jones, who previously led Shop Direct and held senior roles at Next, attributed much of the retailer’s troubles to the weather.
“It went back to normal growth for us, pretty much the moment it was cooler – within a 24-hour window people started shopping again.”
“We have seen the UK market become more encouraging in the last to six to eight weeks because of the normal climate,” he said.
“It went back to normal growth for us, pretty much the moment it was cooler – within a 24-hour window people started shopping again.
“It was a much bigger influence than Brexit.”
Despite placing such importance on the weather, Newton-Jones said that Mothercare would not alter its seasonal approach.
“The climate thing is really interesting,” he said. “The moment you buy neutral you get perfect seasons.
“Sometimes you have to mark down more, sometimes it’s perfect.”
Newton-Jones reiterated Mothercare’s turnaround plan, saying that he would “press on” with it and that the market should be confident in its plans.