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Mothercare and Bonmarché report third quarter online sales growth

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A boost to multichannel sales helped Mothercare to report like-for-like UK growth in the third quarter of its financial year.

The maternity-to-nursery retailer today said in a trading update that UK online sales grew by 16.1% in the 13 weeks to January 10, accounting for 31.8% of total UK sales, up from 26.9% at the same time last year. Total UK sales were down by 1.9%, as space fell by 4.2% with the closure of six stores, but like-for-like sales, which strips out the effect of store closures, were up by 1.1%.

Worldwide sales grew by 2.2% but total group sales fell by 2.9% in the quarter.

Mark Newton-Jones, Mothercare chief executive, said: “Third quarter results are in line with our plan. Importantly, in the UK, we have continued to reduce the level of promotional activity and went into the end of season sale on Boxing Day, with less stock and later than in recent years. These actions are re-establishing Mothercare as a full price retailer and in turn stabilising our margin. In International, we have seen continued strong growth from all territories, despite the economic uncertainty in some markets.

“Whilst trading conditions remain challenging, we are continuing to make good progress on our strategic plan. Our vision is clear – to be the leading global retailer for parents and young children.”

The results come soon after Newton-Jones raised £100m from investors in September to fund a restructuring putting digital first. As well as fast online growth, the company also saw mobile grow to account for 75% of UK online sessions – up from 65% last year – while click and collect orders grew by 10.7% to account for 36.6% of UK online orders.

The company also released figures for the 41 weeks to January 10: with worldwide sales up by 0.3%, total group sales down by 1.6%, UK like-for-likes up by 1.3%, with online sales up by 14.9%.

Meanwhile, Bonmarché announced a 9.1% rise in total sales in the third quarter of its year, buoyed by online sales growth of 34.9%. Store-only like-for-like sales rose by 3.8% in the quarter, while like-for-like added to online made for growth of 5.8%. In December alone, sales grew by 10%, with online up by 41.3%, and like-for-like plus online up by 6.1%. In the 39 weeks to December 27, online sales grew by 44.4%, taking total sales up by 10.9%, and like-for-like plus online up by 8.6%.

The value women’s clothing retailer traded from 282 stores and online by the end of the 2014.

Chief executive Beth Butterwick said in today’s in its trading update: “We are satisfied with Bonmarché’s Q3 performance in a challenging, promotionally-driven market.”

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