July 19, 2012 / 6:57 AM / 8 years ago

Mothercare sales slip, UK business still a drag

(Reuters) - The baby products retailer Mothercare Plc’s (MTC.L) sales fell 4.4 percent for the first quarter as its United Kingdom business continued to struggle.

Mothercare is battling intense competition in Britain from supermarkets and internet retailers, while consumers’ wallets have thinned as the economy re-entered recession this year.

The company, whose products include baby car seats, maternity wear, bedding, feeding and bathing products for babies, said total UK sales for the 15 weeks ended July 14 fell 10.2 percent.

Comparable sales from the UK were down 6.7 percent.

The company’s turnaround plan to restore its British business to profitability by 2015 includes reducing the number of its stores in the UK to 200.

Mothercare, which has owned and franchised stores in 59 countries, said international retail sales grew 11 percent, offsetting weaker trading in the UK.

International sales comprise about 30 percent of the company’s revenue.

Mothercare shares, which have gained over 26 percent since the start of the year, closed at 205.25 pence on the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

Reporting by Karen Rebelo in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das

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