Maternity specialist Mothercare generated full-year sales of more than £1bn for the first time last year but profits narrowly missed City expectations.
Network sales – which include those made by overseas franchise partners to customers – climbed 10% to £1.1bn. However the underlying pre-tax profit of £37.2m was below the advance consensus of £38.5m.
Mothercare’s international business, which comprises 1,115 stores in 52 countries, had a record year, said chief executive Ben Gordon. Total international sales soared 21.4% resulting in profits up 40.6%.
He described UK performance including a fourth consecutive year of like-for-like growth – 3% in the 52 weeks to March 27 - as “robust” but was cautious about the trading outlook.
Gordon said: “The year finished with a more challenging consumer environment in the UK and strong growth in international. We expect this pattern to continue into 2010/11 and we are planning cautiously.”
Mothercare’s overseas operations, strong cash flow and lack of debt all mean the business is well positioned, said Gordon.
Initiatives launched by Mothercare last year included a deal to supply children’s clothing to 400 Boots stores and a joint venture in India, where there are 32 franchised Mothercare stores at present and plans for 200 eventually.