Mothercare UK reports fall in sales amid 'challenging' markets
Troubled retailer Mothercare has reported an 8.8pc fall in UK like-for-like sales in its fourth quarter to March 30, and warned markets are set to remain "challenging".
Mothercare said the sales fall marked an improvement on the previous two quarters, although this was boosted by clearance promotions from shop closures.
It added the clearance sales had "significantly" hit online sales.
Total UK sales tumbled 14.5pc in the quarter after Mothercare swung the axe on 40 stores over the past three months.
In Ireland a separate business has the right to trade under the Mothercare brand.
Mothercare Ireland is a separately owned and family-run business, started by David Ward in 1992 and is now run by his two sons, Jonathan and Ben, and daughter Laura.
The Irish business exited an examinership in October 2015 that resulted in three stores being closed at Blackrock and Jervis Street in Dublin and Cruises Street in Limerick and significant rental reductions being achieved. Today it has 14 stores across the country, including one in Galway, which it is relocating to a 6,000 squ. ft store at Well Park retail park.
Meanwhile, Mothercare UK said it had now completed its store closure programme ahead of schedule, leaving it with 80 shops, down from 137 a year ago - a 30pc reduction.
Mark Newton-Jones, chief executive of Mothercare, said: "The UK store closure programme has been completed ahead of schedule and we now have 80 stores in operation, down from 137 stores a year ago.
"Whilst this has been a difficult but necessary process, to right-size the UK, it has meant that we have had to say goodbye to many loyal and longstanding colleagues."
He said the "disruption we have seen from both the organisational changes and the UK store closures is now largely behind us".
But he added: "Looking ahead, we expect market conditions in the UK and in some international markets to remain challenging."
(Additional reporting PA)