Mothercare and Laura Ashley target overseas sales
Friday 01 April 2011
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.
- 1 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 2 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 3 Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
- 4 James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
- 5 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
iJobs Money & Business
£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...
£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...