Mothercare shares have jumped 8 per cent on signs that the baby retailer may have a future in the UK after all. Its new chief executive, Simon Calver, has been shutting stores apace – 56 this year alone – leaving it with 255 in Britain.
The company reckons 200 is about the right number to support the growing online arm, where sales are up 18 per cent in the fourth quarter. Sales in stores over the same period were flat – better than City expectations, hence the share bounce, up 23.75p to 315.75p.
Sales at the international arm grew 15 per cent.
James McGregor, at the consultancy Retail Remedy, said: "While these figures are bad, they're not as bad as they could have been. Flat UK like-for-like sales in the fourth quarter will have given it a glimmer of hope. That's how bad things have been. Mothercare is only in year one of a three-year turnaround plan so investors will cut it some slack."