Online sales at Mothercare grew by almost a quarter in the late spring and early summer as the company moved away from discounting and invested to bring digital into the store.
The nursery retailer, a Leading retailer in the IRUK 500, today reported a 23.9% boost to ecommerce sales in the first quarter of its financial year. It has introduced iPads to all its stores that sales assistants can use to show customers online content including photos, videos and customer reviews.
But while online grew fast in the 15 weeks to July 11, total group sales fell by 5.2% as the retailer closed stores in the UK. International sales were also down by 1.3%, at constant currency rates, as consumer confidence dipped. Total UK sales fell by 0.9% during the period, while like-for-like sales grew by 1.3%.
Last year’s first quarter results, by contrast, showed slower online sales growth, at 5.7%, a 1.2% fall in total UK sales, but 0.9% growth in UK like-for-likes. However, international sales at this time last year had grown by 14.7%, when measured in constant currencies.
Mark Newton-Jones, chief executive of Mothercare, said overall trading was in line with expectations.
“Our strategy in the UK is continuing to deliver results,” he said. “We have delayed the end-of-season sale to take advantage of well controlled stock and the warm weather to sell more at full price. As a result margins are improving without adversely affecting like-for-like sales. Online has also benefited from lower discounts and promotions with the additional benefit of improved functionality. The early results from the store refurbishment programme and the additional investment into service both online and in store are encouraging.
“It is still early days in our turnaround and we recognise that there is still much to do. Our vision remains clear – to be the leading global retailer for parents and young children.”