Mothercare sales suffer as stores close and supermarkets compete

MOTHER and baby products retailer Mothercare reported lower third quarter sales yesterday, mainly as a result of store closures due to tough economic conditions.

Mothercare is battling intense competition in the UK from supermarkets and internet players, as well as consumer uncertainty in the face of a difficult economic climate.

Last November, the group launched a review of its struggling UK business, and in May detailed plans to close about 110 British stores over two years as leases expire.

The firm said total UK sales fell nearly seven per cent, hurt by the store closures, while total group sales fell 1.2 per cent in the 12 weeks to 1 January.

Sales at UK stores open at least a year fell three per cent. But the company said like-for-like sales rose five per cent in December driven by increased promotional activity.

Alan Parker, who moved up to the role of executive chairman when chief exec Ben Gordon left in October, said the search for a new boss was progressing, and that the company review will be completed this quarter.

Mothercare shares closed up 1.2 per cent yesterday.