Mothercare cheers boom in home delivery baby products

BABYCARE chain Mothercare yesterday showed it was shrugging off the retail gloom, reporting a 9.4 per cent jump in group sales, as shoppers flocked to stock up on summer lines of baby products due to the warm weather.<br /><br />Underlying UK sales rose 5.1 per cent for the 15 weeks to 10 July, while sales at Direct in Home, its home delivery business, grew 17.4 per cent.<br /><br />Many retailers are struggling as cash-strapped consumers think twice before making a purchase amid redundancy fears.<br /><br />But Mothercare has bucked the trend, benefiting from selling essential products for parents, a fast-growing internet and home shopping business and the successful integration of the Early Learning Centre (ELC).<br /><br />The group trades from 1,014 stores in 51 countries. The group opened 30 new stores overseas during the quarter -- mainly in Eastern Europe and the Middle East -- and now has 63. Its international expansion delivered strong results, reporting a 32.7 per cent lift for the period. Mothercare is expected to report a pre-tax profit of &pound;40m for the year to the end of March 2010.<br /><br />Chief executive Ian Peacock said: &ldquo;The international business continues to grow rapidly and was boosted by the weakness of sterling.&rdquo;<br /><br />He added: &ldquo;While this has been a positive start to the year, we continue to manage the business tightly in an uncertain global consumer environment.&rdquo; <br /><br />Mothercare, which acquired ELC for &pound;85m in June 2007, said its summer sale was going to plan, leaving it with a clean stock position at the start of the new season.<br /><br />The group also said its recent partnership with musician and presenter Myleene Klass for the Baby K range had been successful in the UK and internationally and it plans to extend the label into its home and travel sectors.