• First-quarter UK sales slide 2.1%
  • Like-for-likes up 1.2%
  • Online sales rise 6.4%
  • Hedging means it expects “limited” Brexit impact this year

Mothercare has blamed “unseasonable” weather on a fall in first-quarter UK sales, but like-for-likes rose as its turnaround effort continues.

Like-for-likes rose 1.2% while total sales fell 2.1% in the 15 weeks to July 9. Mothercare said that fall reflected a 4.8% year-on-year reduction in space. UK stores now number 170, including eight Early Learning Centre shops. 

The nursery retailer was hit by bad weather and so brought its Sale forward one week to clear stock following adverse weather during the quarter.

UK online sales rose 6.4% and now accounts for 25.5% of total UK sales. Last year online sales made up 32.7% of total sales. Mobile is responsible for 84% of online traffic and 61% of online sales.

Globally, sales rose 2.7% when international wholesale sales were included. When the cost of wholesale sales were factored in global sales rose 1.7%

International sales rose 3.9% in constant currency, with half of that growth generated by the Middle East. Ramadan fell entirely in Mothercare’s first quarter this year.

Actual currency sales rose 5.1%, with the Middle East and Asia performing well, but the impact of these gains will be limited, due to the hedging of royalty receipts.

International space increased 2.3% year-on-year, reaching 3m sq ft across 1,322 stores. Of those, 958 were Mothercare stores while 364 were Early Learning Centre stores.

Cheif executive Mark Newton-Jones said: “Our focus remains firmly on the turnaround of our business and putting strong foundations down for the future and we have made further progress during this quarter.

“In the UK sales were impacted by unseasonable weather, this resulted in bringing our end-of-season sale forward by one week to ensure a cleaner stock position while also making way for the new season’s ranges.

“We remain cautious and expect to see continued volatility during the first half of the year in our international business.

“We have not seen any immediate consumer reaction to the Brexit vote, but it is too early to call as we went into the end-of-season sale early. We hedge both dollar purchases and royalty receipts and we expect limited impact on our financial results this year.

“Our vision remains clear - to be the leading global retailer for parents and young children.”