• Pre-tax profit fell 15.7%
  • Like-for-like sales dipped 0.7%
  • Overall UK sales dropped 2.3%

Mothercare has reported a fall in half-year profits and like-for-like sales following “difficult” trading conditions.

The specialist retailer, which is in the midst of a turnaround, recorded a 15.7% decline in underlying pre-tax profit in the 28 weeks to October 8 to £5.9m.

Like-for-likes fell 0.7% in the period.

Despite improvements in its international markets the retailer posted a 0.6% fall in overall group sales, which it attributed to challenges in the UK market including “unseasonable weather and warehouse changes.”

Total UK sales slid 2.3% drop in the period. However, half-year international sales rose 7.7%. 

On a statutory basis, Mothercare reported a pre-tax loss of £0.8m, compared to profits of £5.8m in the same period last year.

Openings and refurbishments

Mothercare continued its store refurbishment programme during the period, upgrading a further 32 of its UK stores, taking the total number of store refreshes to 91, comprising 60% of the retailer’s UK store estate.

The specialist retailer also opened 84 new stores and closed 55 unprofitable outlets during the period, as well as launching three new international websites, making its offer available online in 14 markets overall.

Mothercare also replatformed its website, with 40% of its overall sales now coming from online.

Optimism for second half

Chief executive Mark Newton-Jones said: “The last six months have been challenging and, not withstanding our progress with our strategic pillars, our sales and margin stalled in the period.

“While conditions in the first half have been challenging, the second half has started in line with our plans and the business is well prepared for the important peak season.

“We expect to make further progress in the second half which will partially compensate for the effect of the headwinds experienced in the first half.”