Nursery retailer Mamas & Papas unveiled an 11% increase in like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks to Christmas Day, driven by a rise in personal shopping.

It said the personal shopping service now accounts for 10% of UK store sales, compared with 1% a year ago, and that a personal shopper spends £800, on average, per visit.

Black Friday, which came midway through the period, also bolstered the business’ sales, beating its previous best online sales day by 29%, along with the launch of the new Ocarro stroller.

Mamas & Papas chief executive Jonathon Fitzgerald said: “These are encouraging results and show that our investment in new formats, new product launches and in digital is really paying off.”

The new boss, who was bumped up from chief commercial officer last month, added: “The growth we’ve seen in personal shopping is particularly pleasing.

“Our customers really value good service so we’ve created and curated rich, in-store experiences that encourage parents-to-be to come to us for tailored advice on everything from nursery design and sleep tips to advice on nutrition and wellbeing.”

Current trading

The retailer said like-for-like sales in its financial year to date, ending March 27, are up 10%, with online sales up 13%.

It has recently opened three new concept stores, including one Battersea – an area with a high concentration of affluent young families.

The business aims to open another 15 stores, half of which it hopes will be inside the M25, having almost halved its UK store footprint last year as part of a “comprehensive restructure”.

Mamas & Papas currently has 32 UK stores.

Its chairman and former chief executive Derek Lovelock said: “In a tough retail climate, our team has successfully completed the turnaround phase at pace, returned the business to growth and profit, and re-positioned Mamas & Papas as the nursery brand for millennial parents.

“With economic growth likely to slow and uncertainty over the course and outcome of Brexit set to continue, trading conditions are unlikely to improve much in 2017, but we can look forward to the future with confidence and cautious optimism.”

Previous financial year

In its previous financial year, ended March 27, 2016, Mamas & Papas reported operating profits of £5.5m, compared with £1.4m the previous year.

Like-for-like sales grew 20%, and sales in overseas markets were up 11%, coming in at £32.9m.

Last year rumours surfaced that Mamas & Papas’ owner, the private equity owner Bluegem Capital, was looking to sell the business.