• H1 profit of GBP5.5m versus loss of GBP11m
  • Sales edge down 1% to GBP372.7m
  • UK loss narrows to GBP13.5m
Mothercare said it remains "committed" to fixing the UK business

Mothercare said it remains "committed" to fixing the UK business

Mothercare still has to achieve a "significant" recovery in sales densities, an analyst has said, despite the UK mother, baby and children's goods retailer returning to profit in the first half.

Group profit before tax after exceptional and non-underlying items reached GBP5.5m (US$8.6m) for the 28 weeks to 11 October, compared to a loss of GBP11m in the same period of last year.

Total group sales edged down 1% to GBP372.7m from GBP376.3m last year.

In the UK, total sales dropped 1.2% to GBP235.6m from GBP238.4m, while like-for-like sales rose 1.5%. The division narrowed its loss to GBP13.5m from GBP14.9m a year ago.

The retailer said it remains "committed" to fixing the UK and returning the business to profitability. "The recent successful right issue gives us the financial resources and flexibility to press ahead with our plans to modernise Mothercare and Early Learning Centre and to re-establish ourselves as the clear first choice for parents and young children," it added.

International sales edged down 0.5% to GBP397.5 from GBP399.3m, while like-for-like sales grew 4.9%. Underlying international profit climbed 0.4% to GBP25.3m from GBP25.2m.

"Whilst it is still early days the results, this morning, show some improvement," said chief executive Mark Newton-Jones.

He later added: "Trading conditions remain challenging, but we are making progress building the foundations for the future of the business both in the UK and across our International territories. Our vision is clear, to be the leading global retailer for parents and young children."

Commenting on the performance, Cantor analyst Mike Dennis said: "On our calculations, Mothercare still has to achieve a significant recovery in sales densities before store trading margins can recover and is probably still suffering from lower margins in travel goods plus more competition from internet operators, like Amazon.com."

Mothercare's share price was up 8.2% to GBP187.5 11:03 GMT this morning (20 November).