Booming Mothercare sets it sights abroad

Mothercare claimed yesterday that investors were underestimating its overseas growth potential, as it posted a 22 per cent rise in first-half profit.

Ben Gordon, chief executive of the mother and baby goods retailer, said: "We think there's a huge (international] opportunity and it's perhaps not understood as well as it could be."

With this in mind he is taking retail analysts next month to India, where the UK company already has 52 stores, to further explain the overseas strategy.

"When you see it in market you understand it better.

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"The brand travels fantastically well and we don't have to change the product much from country to country. Mums have the same needs in Manchester, Mumbai or Moscow," added Gordon.

Last month, the group raised its target for overseas store openings this year from 100 to 150, and Gordon is targeting a further 150 in 2011-12, with India, China and Russia key markets.

He was speaking after Mothercare, which already has more than 1,200 stores in 54 countries, said that it made an underlying pre-tax profit of 12.2 million in the 28 weeks to 9 October, with a strong performance overseas offsetting a weak UK market.

Analyst Nick Bubb at brokerage Arden Partners said: "There is much to admire about Mothercare's strong overseas franchise-led growth … but the business is running ever harder to try to stand still in the UK."

Mothercare's worldwide sales rose 7.5 per cent to 590.2m.