Sales at Mothercare Ireland in the first quarter of this year “have shown the first consistent positive trend for a number of years”.
That is according to the directors of Mothercare Ireland Ltd who also say that “the underlying business remains viable and strong with the directors anticipating a return to growth and profitability in the short to medium term”.
The firm last October exited examinership that led to the closure of three stores, at Blackrock and Jervis Street in Dublin and Cruises Street in Limerick. It also negotiated significant rental reductions.
New accounts show that the firm recorded a modest pre-tax profit of €2,905 in the 12 months to the end of March last year after revenues decreased by 6.5% from €35.6m to €33.27m.
The directors say that the economic recession here and a disproportionately high level of contracted rents, in particular, legacy upward-only leases in retail parks, high street and shopping centres left the group with little or no option but to enter examinership on July 22 last year.
As part of the examinership process, the group said it has secured a rent reduction of 30% across its stores.
The firm’s rental bill for the 12 months to the end of March last year topped €3.84m. Mothercare Ireland was set up in 1992 by David Ward who had previously run the BHS, Habitat, and Mothercare businesses in Ireland for the Storehouse Group.
The decline in revenues at the baby and maternity care firm comes against the background of a declining birth-rate in Ireland.
Mothercare Ireland operates 15 stores and has outlets in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Tralee, Newbridge, Portlaoise, Limerick, Drogheda, Dundalk, Sligo, and Waterford.
Accumulated profits at the firm totalled €406,430 at the end of March 2015. The firm’s cash pile increased last year from €866,618 to €1.067m.
Numbers employed by the group last year remained unchanged at 301, while staff costs fell from €5.82m to €5.32m.
There were 255 employed in retailing, 23 in warehouse functions, 22 in administration and one person in marketing. The directors are listed as David Ward, Sean O’Shea, Jonathan Ward, and Ben Ward. Ben Ward was appointed as a director in January 2015.
Directors’ pay plummeted from €201,146 to €11,281. The accounts show that David Ward is a member of the Ward Cooke Partnership which was paid €343,988 in rent by Mothercare Ireland Ltd last year.
David Ward is also a partner in the DIB Partnership that owns Mothercare’s Newbridge premises and the rent paid to the DIB Partnership amounted to €200,000.
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