RETAIL UPDATE: Mothercare reveals first half figures

Chain reports record first half for international and strong UK trading.
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The chief executive of Mothercare has stated that the retailer is well placed as it enters the important second half of its financial year - with first half results revealing a record performance for international, as well as strong UK trading.

UK sales for the 28 weeks ending October 10th were up 2.7 per cent, with underlying profit up 15.4 per cent.

Mothercare has also identified 12 sites where it plans to open new 'landmark' stores in high traffic locations in major shopping centres, according to The Guardian.

International performance was the real star, however. Retail sales rose 29.6 per cent, with underlying profit up 53.2 per cent. A new joint venture was recently announced in India, doubling the store target from 100 to 200. In addition, the chain has plans to launch in Australia with the Mothercare brand and South Africa with the Early Learning Centre brand, as well as to open ten stores in China this year.

In total, 62 overseas stores opened in the first half, with the full year target now 115 (previous guidance was 100).

In addition, total Direct sales were up 15.0 per cent to £58.0 million.

Group sales were up 7.9 per cent for the period to £387.3 million (2008: £359.0m), while UK like for likes sales rose by 4.0 per cent.

"With the strength of our two global brands, our rapidly growing international platform, a reducing UK cost base and debt free business, we are well placed as we enter the important second half," said chief executive, Ben Gordon.

Gordon also told The Guardian that the company's 'Parenting Centres', which stock the full combined Mothercare and ELC range, currently accounted for 40 per cent of store space and 65 per cent of UK store profit.

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