Mark Newton-Jones, Chief Executive of mothercare plc, said:
“We are now in the second year of the turnaround of mothercare, and we are continuing to make major changes in the business. We have refurbished c60% of our UK store estate, upgraded our distribution and online capabilities and completed the bulk of the unprofitable store closure programme. Lastly we have seen a step change in our digital credentials with c40% of our business now being generated through this channel.
“The last 6 months have been challenging and, not withstanding our progress with our strategic pillars, our sales and margin stalled in the period. There are two factors at play here – firstly the widely reported slowdown in sales across the high street due to unseasonal weather through the spring/summer season, resulting in higher markdown. Secondly, whilst our planned warehouse infrastructure change has been successfully completed, it did mean a reduced flow of product for 8 weeks in the summer and a one off increase in operational costs as the systems bedded in.
“Finally, we are making good progress with the reorganisation and focus within our International business. While sales are still volatile across the globe, many of our markets have now returned to growth. We are putting retail space down and exporting our learnings and good practice from the UK into International online, which has grown by +46% in local currency.
“While conditions in the first half have been challenging, the second half has started in line with our plans and the business is well prepared for the important peak season. We expect to make further progress in the second half which will partially compensate for the effect of the headwinds experienced in H1.
“We continue to see opportunities to further develop and improve our business both here in the UK and in our international markets. Our vision remains clear: to be the leading global retailer for parents and young children.”