Mothercare’s UK first-quarter like-for-like sales edged down 0.9% as chief executive Simon Calver played down the business benefits of the royal baby.

Calver said: “It’s not like the Olympics. We don’t expect a big uptick but there may well be a feelgood factor, which is always good.”

However, Calver said the retailer was planning some promotional events around the royal birth and will be “rolling out the red carpet” at its Oxford Street store.

The maternity retailer reported a 7.9% fall in total sales in the 15 weeks to July 13 with total group sales, which includes its wholesale arm, down 3.4%.

Total UK and international retail sales rose 4.8%. UK online sales rose 14.6%

Calver said the retailer is making “good progress” on its three-year Transformation and Growth plan more than a year in. Like-for-like sales in the fourth quarter of last year had been flat.

As part of the plan, Mothercare reduced its UK space by 7.7% year on year as 13 loss making stores closed during the quarter.

The retailer grew international sales 14.1% in the period, opening 47 stores to bring its estate to 1,116 franchise stores across 60 countries.

Calver said: “The UK is very promotional and our goal is to be price competitive while delivering cash margin. We have continued to improve the basics of value, service and availability for our customers.

“Our multichannel focus continues with a solid performance from Direct in Home, supporting our UK like-for-like sales. While we still have a way to go, I am encouraged by the improving positive feedback from our customers to the necessary changes in the UK, particularly to product innovation and new clothing ranges, especially Value Essentials.” 

He added: “As planned, we are continuing to close loss-making stores and pressing ahead with our cost-saving initiatives. Trading conditions have been challenging both in the UK and across our Eurozone markets and are expected to remain so for the rest of the year.”