Mothercare has reported narrowing losses in its UK business despite a 3.6% fall in full-year like-for-like sales in its domestic market.
UK losses were reduced to £21.7m in the year to March 30 from £24.7m in the prior year. Total UK sales fell 10.8% to £499.7m. The like-for-like fall is an improvement on last year’s 6.2% plummet.
Group underlying pre-tax profit rose to £8.3m from £1.6m in the previous year. International profits increased by 20.3% to £42m while like-for-likes in the division rose 5.6% and sales rose 8.4% to £728.7m.
Chief executive Simon Calver said customers are responding positively to his three-year Transformation and Growth plan to improve its multichannel offer as well as slim Mothercare’s estate to 200 profitable stores and drive down cost in the UK business. He said customer satisfaction scores had improved while the average basket size had risen.
He said: “We have improved value, choice, service and delivery for our customers both in store and online and these are themes that we will continue to build on in the years ahead.”
Calver said that online sales rose 18.2% during the last quarter after replatforming its site and improving delivery options.
He added: “My first year at Mothercare has been both exciting and challenging. I now have a full executive team in place and we are already making positive changes to the business. For all our customers, we are improving value, introducing new and more innovative products and investing in even better service.
“Our results reflect the progress we have made against our plans to reduce UK losses and deliver continued international profit growth. After the first year of our Transformation and Growth plan, the company is on a firmer footing. I look forward to building on this in the years ahead, as the world’s leading multichannel mother and baby specialist.”
Mothercare, which trades from 1,324 stores in 61 countries, said overseas sales now account for 6% of its global business.
Calver added that, in the context of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh last month, the retailer conducts regular premises reviews of its suppliers. “Recent events in Bangladesh highlight the importance of improving standards. While our suppliers are not impacted, we have signed up to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh to support the improvement in the safety and conditions of all those employed in the manufacture of goods,” he said.