Mothercare UK sales continue to disappoint

Full year like-for-like UK sales down four per cent, while international continues to flourish.
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Mothercare has issued an update on trading for the fourth quarter and the full year ended March 26th 2011.

During the fourth quarter, UK like-for-like sales were down 2.4 per cent, with total sales up slightly by 4.7 per cent.

Meanwhile the worldwide network sales rose by 10.2 per cent and international franchisee retail sales were up ten per cent. Total group sales were up 11.4 per cent.

Full year results showed UK like-for-likes down four per cent and total UK sales were flat.

Worldwide network sales for the year were up 8.6 per cent. International franchisee retail sales rose by 16 per cent and total group sales were up 3.6 per cent.

Direct in Home sales also increased by 10.5 per cent for the full year.

Ben Gordon, chief executive said: "International has delivered another strong year with franchisee retail sales up 12 per cent at constant rates of exchange in the fourth quarter and up 16 per cent in the full year with 166 new overseas stores opened.

"The Asia-Pacific region, which includes our joint ventures in India, China and Australia, is growing particularly rapidly with sales up 47 per cent in the year. We now have 1,267 stores in 55 countries with 373 in the UK and 894 overseas including 62 in India.

"In the UK total sales are up 4.7 per cent in the fourth quarter due to increased sales from the new wholesale business and continuing benefits from our property strategy. The UK trading environment however remains difficult with weaker consumer demand and lower footfall.

"We have cleared autumn/winter stocks in an increasingly competitive environment and, as a result, we expect UK gross margin for the full year to be down 2.5 per cent which is 0.5 per cent lower than previous guidance. As planned, during the year we closed 26 High Street stores and opened 12 parenting centres."

Mothercare expects its international business to continue its growth for the next financial year, with at least 150 new overseas stores opening.

The firm also expects the UK consumer environment to remain challenging and accordingly, is planning cautiously.

Mothercare expects the profitability of the UK retail operations to remain under significant pressure in 2011/12 with weak demand continuing, although input cost pressures on gross margin will be offset by cost savings.


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