UK children's wear chain Mothercare is to shut 110 of its domestic stores to reduce exposure to the challenging high street environment.

The company told the London Stock Exchange that it was restructuring its UK property structure in light of the recent downturn and rising rents.

Mothercare saw its UK sales for the 52 weeks ended 26 March 2011 fall 0.5% to GBP587.2m (US$949m).

In total, 150 stores will be affected by the restructuring, with approximately 110 stores closed and rents renegotiated to a substantially lower level on a further 40 stores, the company said.

Ben Gordon, chief executive of Mothercare, said: "Over the last three years we have been reshaping the UK business for a changing retail landscape by downsizing the in-town property portfolio and growing direct and wholesale.

"Today we are announcing plans to accelerate our UK property strategy and transform the store portfolio over the next two years, benefiting from the unique position of having over 40% of our high street leases expiring by March 2013.

"This will substantially reduce our exposure to the UK high street, further reduce operational leverage and allow us to focus on out-of-town parenting centres, direct and our new wholesale business."

Mothercare did see international sales rise by 17.2% to GBP206.4m for the full-year period, but the company posted an overall 23% decrease in underlying profits, to GBP28.5m.

“Mothercare’s strategy is to focus on its growing channels; direct, wholesale and international. Its large out-of-town Parenting Centres are destination stores that can deliver its full range to parents in a convenient, easy to shop environment," said Maureen Hinton, practice leader at retail analysts Verdict.

"The Mothercare brand has an increasingly wider global presence as it expands internationally and is where the business can produce the highest growth," she added.