Mothercare returns to profit in first half

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Baby accessories retailer Mothercare moved back into the black during the first half of the year as it continued to close loss-making stores in the UK.

The chain said it shut 18 branches during the first half, leaving it with 237 stores, down from 311 a year ago, and losses at its UK business fell to £14.9 million, compared with £16.9m last time.

Mothercare also has 1,156 franchised stores in 59 countries and said underlying profits at its international arm grew 13.5 per cent to £25.2m.

At a group level, the firm posted a pre-tax profit of £2m for the six months to 12 October, compared with a £1.8m loss a year earlier, and chief executive Simon Calver said he was focused on returning the UK business to profit.

He added: “The benefits of the changes we are making to the business are clear, with a return to underlying profit. Our international business continues to deliver double-digit growth and the opportunities in these markets remain.

“We are planning for consumer spending to remain subdued in the UK during the second half of the year. We have made progress with our transformation and growth plan, but there is more to do.”