Mothercare has reported underlying pre-tax profit up 12.4 per cent to £37.1m in its full year ending March 28.

The mother and baby products retailer also reported group sales up 2.8 per cent to £723.6m, while UK like-for-like sales were up 1.4 per cent and international like-for-likes were up 6 per cent.

Chief executive Ben Gordon said: “This has been another strong performance for the Mothercare group and as a result we have recommended a 20.8 per cent increase in the total dividend.”

The retailer reported record international sales, up 40.9 per cent. International profit grew 47.9 per cent to £13.9m and it added 115 new shops to total 609 stores in 50 countries. The group plans to open at least 100 overseas stores every year for the foreseeable future, focusing on the Middle East, Eastern Europe, China and India.

Its direct home sales were up 24.9 per cent to £62.2m and its direct store sales were up 26.3 per cent to £45.1m.

Gordon said: “Given the uncertain consumer environment, we are planning cautiously for 2009/10, however, we are well placed as we enter the new financial year, benefiting from our growing international platform, resilient multichannel UK business, strong cash flow and debt free balance sheet.”

The retailer said the integration of Early Learning Centre is “largely complete” and the restructuring of its UK property portfolio is on track.

Almost 50 per cent of the group’s UK property leases are coming up for renewal in the next three years enabling it to seek better terms. It said this will allow it to open new out of town Parenting Centres in key catchments and open stores in higher traffic locations.