• Full-year underlying pre-tax profits up 51% to £19.6m
  • UK like-for-likes rise 3.6%
  • International profits down 12% due to “currency headwinds”

Mothercare has unveiled a 51% surge in underlying group pre-tax profits to £19.6m but said the international business “remains challenging”.

The parents and young children specialist also posted its first statutory pre-tax profit for five years, coming in at £9.7m for the year ended March 26. 

In the UK, Mothercare narrowed its underlying losses to £6.4m. Like-for-likes rose 3.6%, while total sales edged up 0.3% to £459.7m. Online sales increased 15%. 

During the year, it shut 19 “underperforming” UK stores and refurbished 47.

Mothercare chief executive Mark Newton-Jones said: “The results highlight the significant progress we are making towards returning the UK to profitability.

“Improvements to our customer offer, both in store and online, and the look and feel of the store estate are driving like-for-like sales growth for a second consecutive year.

Mothercare’s international underlying profits fell 12% to £40m.Total international sales fell 7.5% to £689.7m. The retailer said that conditions for its international business “remain challenging” but a “review of the international business has been completed” and “plans are in place”.

Newton-Jones added: “Conditions for our international business remain challenging. The issues are primarily at a macro level, with economic and currency headwinds persisting.

“While we recognise these pressures, we believe that we can also make some improvements in how we operate. We are exiting underperforming stores while continuing to grow space where there is potential for long-term growth. We are also taking the lessons learned from our success in the UK and exporting them to our international markets.”

Earllier this month Mothercare launched an initiative to support its suppliers’ financial health, allowing them to request early payment of invoices.