Mothercare Ireland has said that its is trading profitably in the current year.

The company, which has 22 stores around the country and employs 300 people, said that like for like sales over Christmas were flat, but that its margins improved across all departments over the key Christmas weeks.

The Early Learning Centre, which is part of the Mothercare Ireland group, experienced strong sales with like for like figures up 23% in the 12 weeks up to Christmas.

Mothercare Ireland is part of the original partners of the Mothercare International Group, and is now the fifth largest partner in the group. 

Earlier, Mothercare UK warned that its annual profit would be below current market forecasts, hit by Christmas discounting as well as weak economic conditions and currency deflation overseas.

Underlying sales in the UK business, where it is in the middle of a turnaround plan, were 4% lower, the company added, blaming the promotional nature of the festive period and lower seasonal footfall.
"As a result of lower UK sales and margin and the currency impact, full year profits are likely to be below the current range of market expectations," CEO Simon Calver said.

Analysts had expected the company to post pre-tax profit of £16m, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus forecast.

Mothercare Ireland's managing director David Ward said that results from the UK were disappointing. But he expressed confidence that the recovery programme put in place in the UK would restore the brand there to profitability.

"Mothercare UK, like many retailers, is going through a difficult period," Mr Ward said. 

"Their results are disappointing but measures are in place, including a new senior management team and a recovery programme, ensuring the brand is strong and resilient," he added.