Mothercare and Laura Ashley target overseas sales

The retail stalwarts Mothercare and Laura Ashley yesterday vowed to press ahead with their international expansion plans in the face of deteriorating trading conditions in the UK.

Mothercare – which opened 166 new stores overseas in 2010-11 – said it plans to open a further 150 this financial year, as its UK underlying sales fell by 2.4 per cent for the 12 weeks to 26 March. Ben Gordon, the chief executive of Mothercare, said: "The UK is an unsure and slightly nervous environment but international is booming." Similarly, Laura Ashley, the furniture and clothing chain, is set to open its first stores in Indonesia and India in the second half of this year through franchise partners. It will continue to "consolidate" its number of UK stores.

While Laura Ashley nearly doubled pre-tax profits to a record £19.3m for the year to 29 January, its UK retail sales fell by 4.2 per cent over the last eight weeks in the wake of a marked slowdown in consumer spending.

The gloom in the sector is unlikely to be lifted by the high street bellwether Marks & Spencer's fourth quarter trading update on Wednesday. According to consensus forecasts, M&S is set to report a 6.2 per cent slump in like-for-like general merchandise sales, primarily clothing, for the 13 weeks to 2 April, although it is expected to have grown its food sales by 1.3 per cent.

The retailer's UK underlying sales are forecast to fall by 2.5 per cent in the quarter, down sharply from growth of 2.8 per cent in its third quarter. But M&S is still forecast to make profits of £709m in 2010-11.

Mr Gordon lauded Mothercare's recent performance in China, Russia and Australia, but was particularly effusive about India, where it has 62 stores run by franchise partners. He said: "There is huge potential in India."

Mr Gordon explained that there are 24 million new babies each year in India, which has a population of more than 1.2 billion, but just 795,000 were born last year in the UK. Total sales at Mothercare rose by 10.2 per cent in the fourth quarter. But it had to discount to clear its UK winter stock, which dragged its gross margins down by 2.5 per cent over the year to 26 March.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Administrator

£13000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about custom...

Recruitment Genius: Dialler Administrator

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Main purpose: Under the directi...

Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City of London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City...

Guru Careers: Tax Manager / Accountant

£35 - £50k DOE: Guru Careers: A Tax Manager / Accountant (ACA / CA / CTA) is n...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms