Mothercare has issued a profit warning blaming the “highly promotional” Christmas environment and lower footfall impacting sales and margins.

For the 12 weeks to January 4, worldwide network sales were down 4.4% and group reported sales were down 6.1%. Total UK sales were down 9.9% in the period and UK like-for-likes were down 4%.

Mothercare chief executive Simon Calver blamed its poor performance on wider market conditions, particularly the overall drop in clothing sales and footfall during December.

He told Retail Week: “The market itself is down. Clothing and home and travel is down and generally we’ve seen less demand in the marketplace. Footfall was down overall and shop prices fell during December.”

Calver insisted the retailer’s move not to repeat last year’s free delivery offer was the “right decision” despite the company reporting a 1% decline in Direct in Home sales during the period.

“Last year we offered free delivery on all deliveries rather than just those over £50 and what we found was that there was a large number of people ordering small products. It was unprofitable.” As a result, the company changed the offer, a move which he said was the “right business decision” and one which he would repeat again.

Calver said international was impacted by “currency deflation reducing the reported rate of growth and by heightened economic volatility”. He added: “In some of our larger markets such as Russia and the Middle East we have also experienced some unseasonal weather which impacted sales. Trading has been improving more recently.”

Calver added: “As a result of lower UK sales and margin and the international currency impact, full-year profits are likely to be below the current range of market expectations. We continue to focus on delivering a turnaround in the UK and exploiting the global growth opportunities for Mothercare.”

The company said it increased its international space by 12% in the last year, with a similar level of growth predicted for the year ahead.

Updated: Mothercare warns on profits amid 'highly promotional' Christmas conditions