Nursery and maternity specialist Mamas & Papas has defied the gloom to post a 28% uplift in total sales in its growing maternity range since the start of its financial year on February 1.

Mamas & Papas director of clothing Karen Tyler said that the maternity offer has been beefed up in the past few years. “Four or five years ago we were a prams and pushchairs retailer. Now we are seen as a destination brand for maternity fashion and building a reputation for our quality and fit,” she said.

In the same period, like-for-like sales for its maternity range are up 8.8%. Sales for its online and catalogue business are up 107%.

The maternity market is one of the more recession-proof areas of the market and rivals such as Mothercare have also bucked the high street gloom. According to Mintel, the maternitywear sector is worth £139m and high street retailers including Topshop and more recently River Island have been pushing into the mum-to-be market with more fashionable maternity clothing offers.

Tyler said that the increased competition on the high street did not pose a threat to Mamas & Papas. “Often their ranges are just tacked on to womenswear and do not really have the quality or fashionability,” she said.

Mamas & Papas will also launch a high-end range in November, called Sports Luxe, including tunics, jerseys and trousers in silk and cashmere fabrics with prices starting at £60.

“We are not seeing price resistance at the top end,” said Tyler. “Customers are looking for perceived value and not trading down.”

The retailer wants to open up to four stores this autumn and is aiming to have 36 stores by the end of this year. Its target is 50 within the next 18 months.