Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 13°C

min temp: 9°C

ESTD 1874 Search

WIN A NEW HYUNDAI i10 - See the EADT on June 8 for full details

Retail: Mothercare shares take hit following profits warning

12:25 08 January 2014

Mothercare has warned it will miss profit expectations after fierce Christmas discounting left it nursing a big fall in UK sales.

Mothercare has warned it will miss profit expectations after fierce Christmas discounting left it nursing a big fall in UK sales.

Mothercare shares lost nearly a third of their value today after the baby clothing firm became the second big casualty of fierce Christmas price wars.

shares

The company, which has 231 stores under the Mothercare and Early Learning Centre brands, dealt a blow to its turnaround hopes by revealing that profits will be short of the City’s expectations.

It said its loss-making UK business had been squeezed by the “highly promotional” efforts of rivals and from lower footfall over the period. A weak toy market also hit online sales at Early Learning Centre.

With currency deflation in its more successful overseas business also depressing earnings, shares slumped by more than 30% in early trading today.

The update is the second major profits warning in the sector after Debenhams said on New Year’s Eve that it had missed out on an anticipated surge in sales in the final week before Christmas.

Mike Dennis, a retail analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald stockbrokers, said: “The UK baby clothing and equipment market remains very competitive, with few retailers in this category making any positive retail margins, especially as high street clothing chains, internet offers and supermarkets continue to grow space and share.”

Mothercare’s UK sales fell 9.9% in the 12 weeks to January 4, with the figure 4% lower when recent store closures are stripped out from year-on-year comparisons.

Its internet operation saw sales fall by 1% after the company decided not to repeat the previous year’s free delivery offer.

Chief executive Simon Calver described UK retail trading conditions as difficult and said the company suffered volatility in some of its international markets, such as Russia and the Middle East.

He said: “In the UK, our stores suffered similar Christmas trading pressures to those reported elsewhere.

“Customer service scores continue to improve year on year but weaker footfall and higher promotional activity led to lower sales and margins.”

The group, which has been jettisoning loss-making stores as part of a three-year restructuring plan, made a loss of £21.7million in the UK during its most recent financial year.

N+1 Singer expects a deficit of £18m in the current year to the end of March, although stronger trading by international franchise stores means the company is still set to make a profit.

Analyst Matthew McEachran added: “This latest warning comes as a disappointment, highlighting that the business is still far from being in the shape necessary to cope with the volatile conditions.”

shares

0 comments

Andrew Wheeler of Brewin Dolphin.

Andrew Wheeler, head of the Ipswich office of investment manager Brewin Dolphin, has hailed the firm’s “good progress”.

Thomson Airways' new Boeing 787 Dreamliner touching down at Stansted.

Stansted Airport today marked the arrival of the latest in airline technology with the launch of a new long-haul service from the Essex terminal.

'Love every drop' branding on an Anglian Water van.

Regional water and sewerage services group Anglian Water has announced an increase in underlying annual profits, following a year which marked the end of a five-year settlement with regulator Ofwat.

An LA Fitness gym.

Low-cost gym operator Pure Gym is to acquire mid-market rival LA Fitness, picking up 43 clubs for an undisclosed sum thought to be in the range of £60million to £80m.

Frank Brumby, eastern region chairman of R3.

East of England business victims of late payment saw more than one in six (16%) of their invoices paid late in the last six months, according to research by insolvency trade body R3.

B&Q parent Kingfisher said it was ploughing on with a shake-up plan

B&Q parent Kingfisher said today it was ploughing on with a shake-up plan “at pace” as it reported a first quarter slide in sales at the DIY chain.

Sarah Howard, president of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, and Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, at the celebration marking the first year of work by the New Anglia Growth Hub.

Supporters and staff from the New Anglia Growth Hub today celebrated its first year of work.

The new Escape lounge at Stansted Airport.

A new business lounge at Stansted Airport has been used by more than 9,000 visitors in its first month.

Rooney Anand, chief executive of Greene King.

Proposals from pubs and brewing company Greene King designed to address concerns over its agreed acquisition of the Spirit Pub Company look set to be backed by the UK’s competition authority.

Angus Berry, energy manager at Thames Water, and Richard Robey, sales and marketing director at Haven Power.

Haven Power, the specialist supplier of electricity to UK businesses, has signed a deal with Thames Water worth more than £500million over the next five years.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages