• FY loss narrowed to GBP21.5m 
  • Group sales fell 7.8% to GBP749.4m
  • UK like-for-like sales slipped 3.6%

Mother, baby and children's goods retailer Mothercare has narrowed its first-quarter loss at the end of the first year into its three-year transformation plan, despite being hampered by ongoing challenges in its domestic market.

The UK-based company today (23 May) said pre-tax loss was GBP21.5m (US$32.4m) for the 52 weeks ending 30 March, against a loss of GBP102.9m in the same period last year.

Total group sales, however, fell 7.8% to GBP749.4m from GBP812.7m.

In the UK, sales dropped to GBP499.7m, down from GBP560m last year, while like-for-like sales slipped 3.6%. Meanwhile, sales outside the UK increased 8.4% to GBP728.7m over GBP672.34m the year before and like-for-like sales rose 5.6%.

"Our results reflect the progress we have made against our plans to reduce UK losses and deliver continued international profit growth," said chief executive Simon Calver. "After the first year of our transformation and growth plan, the company is on a firmer footing."

Looking forward, Mothercare said trading conditions and consumer confidence remain weak in the UK and eurozone.

Calver added: "In the UK, we will continue with our strategy to manage the business to cash margins while closing loss making stores and taking out non-store costs.

"Our efforts to engage more effectively with our customers while also investing in value, choice, service and delivery will help us mitigate some of the impact of continued weak consumer confidence.

"Our international markets, with the exception of the eurozone, continue to offer good growth opportunities and we will continue to drive this part of the business forward aggressively, in line with the last year."

Commenting on the results, Conlumino consultant Liz Faulkner said: "While the first year of its transformation has seen to clear steps in the right direction, the retailer faces significant challenges if it is make the proposition relevant again in a highly competitive market."