Mothercare’s UK second quarter like-for-likes fell 1.9% as market competition across the home and travel categories impacted margins.

In the 13 weeks to October 12 the baby and maternity specialist revealed total UK sales slumped 6.9% and 7.5%in the half-year period as Mothercare closed five loss-making UK stores.

Sales at Direct in Home, its online business, increased 8.3% in the quarter. Mothercare is currently rolling out next day click-and-collect to all its UK Early Learning Centre stores in time for Christmas trading.

Mothercare chief executive Simon Calver said: “We are continuing to make fundamental improvements to our business in the UK which will allow us to compete effectively in a changing marketplace.

“However, the UK market in home and travel remained highly promotional and autumn/winter clothing faced the same warm weather challenges as the rest of the sector but is gaining market share. While this has resulted in a margin environment that is more challenging than expected, we continue to focus on profitable sales and cash margin.”

Worldwide network sales grew 3.9% in the quarter and 4.4% in the half-year. Group reported sales edged down 0.5% in the quarter and fell 2% in the half-year.

International retail sales surged 12.6% in constant currency in the quarter and 11.9% in the half-year. Reported retail sales increased 12.4% in the quarter as Mothercare said all four regions it operates in delivered positive growth. This was driven by new stores as Mothercare increased space 11.9% against last year, adding 2.5 million sq ft to its store estate. It now operates from 1,393 stores across 60 markets.