Mothercare shares fall on disappointing sales

Store front of the Mothercare shop in Kempshott Park Basingstoke

UK sales at Mothercare have fallen 14.3% in the first half of the year.

The struggling company said the fall in sales was due to store closure programme and “negative press coverage” over the year.

In June, creditors approved the retailer’s proposed company voluntary arrangement, which led to the closure of 20 stores so far. Four stores are expected to close before Christmas and a further 36 are expected to close in 2019.

For the six months to 6 October, the group posted a pre-tax loss of £14.4 million, a slight improvement for the £16.8 million loss that was reported a year earlier.

The chief executive, Mark Newton-Jones, said: “Our international business is showing signs of recovery after a difficult few years and some core markets, including Russia, China and Indonesia, have moved into growth.”

“The UK retail environment, however, remains very challenging and given the ongoing uncertainty with consumer confidence, alongside the short-term impacts of our operational changes and restructuring programme, we expect performance in the remainder of our financial year to remain volatile.”

Despite the difficult trading environment, Newton-Jones remained confident that the group’s strategy will “reinvigorate the business and restore Mothercare as a leading global specialist for parents and young children”.

Store sales were down 13.8%. Online sales fell by 7.8% and total UK sales were down by 14.3%. The international business reported a profit of £14.9 million.

Emily Stella, an analyst at GlobalData, said: “With the majority of worldwide sales and all of the profit stemming from outside the UK, and with an increasingly difficult UK retail environment, Mothercare should focus on its international business.”

On the news, shares in Mothercare (LON: MTC) were down 8.6%. They are currently trading down 5.5% (1510GMT).