Mothercare group network sales dipped 2.5% in its fourth quarter as its UK business showed some improvement with flat like-for-likes.
Total group sales increased 0.6% over the 12 weeks to March 29.
In the UK, total sales fell 4% as it reduced its space by 3.8% and online sales edged up 1.8%. Mothercare said it expected the UK environment to remain competitive and promotional.
International retail sales rose 9.8% in constant currencies however in moving currencies dipped 1.8%. The adverse currency impact is expected to persist into next year, however Mothercare chairman Alan Parker said its franchise partners are still planning double digit space growth.
Parker said: “After a difficult Q3, it is encouraging to note that we have seen some improvement in trading for both International and the UK.”
“In the UK we have continued to close loss-making stores and focus on a lean retail operation. We are increasingly moving to a multichannel business with 29% of the sales mix, up from 25% in the previous year, attributable to our Direct business. UK like-for-like sales and margins are in line with expectations for the quarter, despite continued pricing-pressure in Home and Travel.”
“We remain profitable at group level and are focused on eliminating UK losses whilst also continuing to exploit our growth potential across our international markets.”
Mothercare is currently looking for a new chief executive following Simon Calver’s exit earlier this year. It has hired former Shop Direct boss Mark Newton-Jones on an interim basis.
Mothercare said that its full year underlying profit is in line with current market forecasts.