Maternity specialist Mothercare, which also owns Early Learning Centre (ELC), posts interims on Wednesday, when broker Singer expects flat profits of about £9.7m.

Singer analyst Matthew McEachran also warned this week that retailers’ Christmas toy promotions to mop up sales that would have formerly gone to Woolworths could affect Mothercare.

He said: “Although Mothercare faced competitive discounting in the run-up to Christmas last year, which it managed to fend off via its differentiated range at ELC inserts and online developments, the nature of the discounting and promotion appears to be more widespread this year and has started earlier.

“Although we continue to view ELC as differentiated in terms of its offer, and although the group would have targeted share gains from Woolworths itself, we suspect it may be unable to avoid the adverse effects on margin in the third quarter if discounting persists among larger players.”

The retailer has been a strong performer during the recession. Last month it posted second quarter UK like-for-like growth of 4.1%.