At last, some respite for restive Mothercare shareholders. British like-for-like sales at the struggling firm remained flat in the 11-week period to the end of March. Although that is nothing to write home about, it is definitely better than the business has been doing in recent years.
The firm’s relatively new chief executive, Simon Calver, said: ‘We are just 12 months into our three-year Transformation and Growth plan, and while we still have much to do, our business is already on a firmer footing,’ and added that he was looking ahead to the next 12 months ‘with confidence’.
It’s certainly a big improvement on the last time it posted results. Back in January, the firm reported a drop in sales in its UK stores, with whole group revenues in the 13 weeks to 12th January falling 7.4% compared with the same period the year before. Specifically in the UK, the drop was a much larger 12.9% - but this was mainly because of the closure of 11 more stores.
And whilst total group sales are down 4.8%, this is in fact partly because of the store closures. It has closed 56 UK stores this year alone, which is getting on for 20% of all of its outlets. Abroad, the firm is achieving rapid sales growth, so there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Those shareholders that have held on in there will no doubt be keen for those full year results to come out on May 23, to see exactly how strong that ‘footing’ is.