• Q3 total group sales up 0.4%
  • UK like-for-likes down 5.8%
  • Severe weather leads to profit warning

Maternity and baby goods retailer Mothercare said its full-year pre-tax profits would fall short of market expectations after severe winter weather impacted third quarter sales.

In the 12 weeks to 1 January, worldwide network sales were up 9.6%, with total group sales edging up 0.4%, but the core UK market suffered a 1.9% sales decline, with like-for-likes falling 5.8%.

However, Mothercare was boosted by a 17.4% increase in international franchisee retail sales, and a 10.2% surge in direct in home sales.

Company chief executive Ben Gordon said: “We continue to make good progress with our key strategic initiatives, including the UK property restructure and the rapid growth of wholesale, direct and international.”

But he said the “significant” impact on sales of the severe winter weather in the UK had reduced like-for-like sales by 4%, and cut full-year UK gross margin by 1% compared to previous guidance.

“We expect group underlying profit before taxation for the full year to be below current market expectations,” Gordon added.