Maternity specialist Mothercare UK like-for-likes were flat in its fourth quarter, a year into the retailer’s three-year turnaround plan.

Total UK sales dropped 5.1% while total group sales fell 4.8% in the 11 weeks to March 30.

Underlying pre-tax profit for the year to March 30, 2013 “is in line with market expectations”, the retailer said.

During the quarter, Mothercare closed 14 stores, exceeding its original target for the year by six. Over the year it closed 56 shops.

Mothercare now operates from 255 stores in the UK.

Mothercare chief executive Simon Calver said: “Mothercare has continued to make progress both in the UK and across its International businesses.

“In the UK we closed 56 loss-making stores, which is ahead of our plan for the year and is helping us become more efficient.

“Our Direct business to customers’ homes was up 18.2% for the quarter as our customers recognised the benefits of our new internet platform, improving delivery proposition and strong promotional offers.”

He added: “We continue to be focused on delivering cash margin. International delivered double-digit growth despite the challenges of the Eurozone and we remain excited about the growth potential for all our International regions.

“We are just 12 months into our three-year Transformation and Growth plan and while we still have much to do, our business is already on a firmer footing.

“Matt Smith joined us as chief financial officer two weeks ago and I am pleased to say that our executive team is now complete. So despite our continuing caution with regards to the outlook for consumer spending in the UK and the Eurozone, we can look ahead to the new year with confidence.”

Mothercare’s international business, excluding Australia and New Zealand, opened 115 stores in the period. Retail sales grew by 15.3% in constant currencies.

Excluding Europe, which suffered due to the weakness of the Eurozone, the international business again delivered double digit retail sales in the quarter and year as a whole.

In January, the directors of Mothercare Australia, in which Mothercare had a 23% stake, took the decision to place the business into administration. Having assessed various options, the administrators have decided to close the business. All 74 shops will close.