LONDON, May 23 (Reuters) - British baby and maternity products retailer Mothercare posted a better-than-expected rise in full-year profit and said it was making good progress with its three-year turnaround plan.
The group, which has some 1,300 stores worldwide including 255 in the UK, on Thursday reported an underlying pretax profit of 8.3 million pounds ($12.49 million) for the year to the end of March, up from 1.6 million pounds a year earlier and above the average 7.2 million pounds forecast in a Thomson Reuters poll of analysts.
Total group sales fell 7.8 percent to 749.4 million pounds, reflecting the closure of loss-making stores in Britain. As part of chief executive Simon Calver’s turnaround strategy the group has closed 56 UK stores in the year to the end of March, ahead of its target of 50 closures.
Total UK sales fell 10.8 percent to 499.7 million pounds in the year, while UK like-for-like sales were down 3.6 percent, an improvement on the 6.2 percent decline a year earlier.
The company’s net debt rose 61 percent during the year to stand at 32.4 million pounds at the end of March.
“The group’s profitability has improved, in line with our plans, and we have delivered the first phase of our Transformation and Growth plan,” said Calver.