Global retailer Mothercare has revealed its UK like-for-like sales declined 8.8 per cent year on year in the three months to the end of March, marking a slight improvement on recent sales falls.
In a trading announcement today the retailer also said that it has completed its UK store closure programme, shutting 40 stores in the past three months as it struggles amid the decline of the British high street.
Mothercare’s drop in UK like-for-like sales in the fourth quarter of the financial year compared to a fall of 11.4 per cent in the previous quarter.
CMS Markets' chief analyst, Michael Hewson, said that "while disappointing [the drop] was an improvement on the previous two quarters".
Adjusted for currency movements, international retail sales fell 4.9 per cent in quarter four compared to a year earlier, down from a fall of 1.1 per cent in the previous quarter.
Retail sales in core markets fell 5.7 per cent, driven primarily by economic and trading challenges in the Middle East.
Mothercare’s cost-cutting exercise saw it sell toy shop The Early Learning Centre to fellow toy seller The Entertainer for £13.5m earlier this month.
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.”
He said the “difficult but necessary process” had meant saying “goodbye to many loyal and longstanding colleagues” due to layoffs.
“Looking ahead, we expect market conditions in the UK and in some international markets to remain challenging. We enter the new financial year in a more robust position as a restructured business fit for the future and with reduced levels of debt,” he said.