Mothercare eyes international growth

Mothercare's latest results show a 12.4% increase in full year profit and the firm is looking to grow abroad.
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 The firm's CEO Ben Gordon says international expansion represents a "huge opportunity" for the retailer.

"There's 40 million babies born every year in China and India together, so for a brand like ours that travels so well, that's a fantastic statistic," he said.

"Only one half of one per cent of the world's babies are born in the UK. So the vast part of our opportunity lies outside of the UK."

The firm plans to open at least 100 overseas franchise stores every year for the foreseeable future, focusing on the Middle East, Russia, Eastern Europe, China and India.

The firm made an underlying pre-tax profit of £37.1m ($57.4 million) for the year ended March 28th, in line with analysts' forecasts, and up from £33m in 2007-08.

Sales increased 6.9 per cent to £724m, with UK like-for-like sales up 1.4 per cent and international sales up 40.9 per cent.

"This has been another strong performance from Mothercare group and as a result we have recommended a 20.8 per cent increase in the total dividend (to 14.5 pence)," said Gordon.

Mothercare is debt-free, ending the year with a net cash balance of £24.8m.

"Given the uncertain consumer environment we are planning cautiously for 2009-2010. However, we are well placed as we enter the new financial year," said the CEO.

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