Ecommerce grew quickly in the final quarter of Mothercare’s financial year to account for about 30% of its sales, helping return UK sales to growth.
The fourth-quarter online surge of 31.8% growth was well ahead of twelvemonth average growth of 18.3%, the nursery retailer showed today in a trading update. Mobile sales grew by about 31% during the quarter, the 11 weeks to March 28. By the end of the period, ecommerce accounted for about 30% of all Mothercare sales, up from 25% at the same time last year.
The fast growth helped push UK sales up by 1.5% in the quarter, contrasting with a fall of 0.9% in the full year. Group sales fell by 1.5% in the full year, and by 1% in the fourth quarter. Worldwide sales, which include wholesale and franchisee sales, were 1% ahead in the full-year, and 4.1% ahead in the quarter.
Mark Newton-Jones, Mothercare chief executive, said the final quarter result was “in line with our plan.”
He said a strategy of cutting down on ad hoc promotional and discount sales to concentrate on an end-of-season sale had helped boost profit margins both online and offline. “Like-for-like and online sales have also benefitted from this approach along with the initiatives to improve product and service put in place during the year,” he said. “In International, the underlying businesses remain robust but economic pressures have affected sales.”
But Newton-Jones, who joined Mothercare last year and previously headed home shopping company Shop Direct until 2013, said the company was still in the early part of its strategic transformation plan.
“It is still early days in our turnaround, but we are putting the foundations in place by modernising and investing in our business,” he said.