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Mothercare's new value range helps stem losses

Direct in Home, Mothercare's web-based home delivery service, increased sales by 0.9% to £43 million after a relaunch of the website in May.

UK like-for-like sales bounced back in the second quarter with a 0.3% rise, following a 3.4% fall in the first three months.

As well as a good response to its value range, Mothercare has also seen strong demand for its premium offering, including "Little Bird" backed by TV chef Jamie Oliver's wife Jools, and plans to extend these lines next year. It said its Baby K range by singer Mylene Klass also continued to perform well.

Its delivery-in-store online service saw sales fall 7.7% to £17.9 million, but Mothercare hopes to drive an improvement after introducing next day delivery.

The group's international business helped boost Mothercare's overall performance with a 20% increase in underlying profit to £22.1 million.

But weaker trading conditions in the eurozone dampened international sales growth, which was 4.4% in the half-year, down from 5.4%.

Eastern Europe and Turkey continued to deliver strong growth at Mothercare, the company said.

Mothercare's turnaround plan centres on driving international expansion as it eventually reduces its UK estate to 95 out-of-town sites and 105 high street locations.

Mothercare shares lifted 5% after today's figures. But Kate Calvert, retail analyst at Seymour Pierce, said she did not believe Mothercare was an "easy fix".

"It will be difficult to make Mothercare relevant again for the modern mother as it has strong competition from Amazon and the supermarkets," she added.

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