Mothercare raises dividend despite flat profit

MOTHERCARE posted flat profit for the year but raised its dividend 16 per cent and said it was well placed to drive forward.

The group, which trades from over 1,100 stores in 52 countries, said it made an underlying pre-tax profit of £37.2m for the year to 27 March.

Group sales increased 5.9 per cent to £766.4m.

Sales at UK stores open over a year increased three per cent, although they fell 1.6 per cent in the fourth quarter when severe winter weather kept shoppers away from out-of-town stores.

Chief Executive Ben Gordon said: "We are planning cautiously. However, overall we are well placed going forward, with our rapidly growing international platform, strong cash flow and debt free balance sheet."

The firm, which ended the year with net cash of £38.5m is paying a total dividend of 16.8p versus 14.5p last time.

Mothercare has benefited from its focus on selling essential products to parents, as well as strong growth in emerging markets and online, and the integration of the Early Learning Centre brand bought in 2007.