Mothercare’s group underlying pre-tax profits were up 65% to £3.3m in the half year with the UK loss lessening as it continues its turnaround.

For the 28 weeks to October 11, the UK loss was £13.5m, down from £14.9m in the first half, while international profit was flat at £25.3m.

Mothercare, which completed a rights issue in the period, reported UK like-for-like sales of 1.5%, retail sales were up 1.4% to £219m and total UK sales up 1.2% to £235.6m.

The mother-and-baby specialist said the rights issue gives it the financial resources to press ahead with returning the UK business to profitability. It wants to modernise Mothercare and Early Learning Centre and establish itself as the first choice for parents and young children.

Since the start of the year, its strategy has been to move towards being a full-price retailer. As a result, it said sales have been volatile. Some weeks of strong double-digit sales growth were countered by weeks of large declines compared with promotional periods the previous year.

Mothercare has continued modernising and realigning its store portfolio. Early signs are that refurbished stores are doing well, it said.

International like-for-like sales were up 4.9%, constant currency sales were up 11.8%, total international sales were down 0.5% and international profits flat at £25.3m.

Mothercare chief executive Mark Newton-Jones said: “With the support of our shareholders we have successfully completed the rights issue, which now gives us the financial resources and flexibility to implement our strategy.

“Whilst it is still early days the results show some improvement. In the UK, we have made progress towards re-establishing ourselves as a full-price retailer. For this approach to be sustainable, we must continue to improve our style, quality, design and innovation in product while modernising our presentation both online and in-store. Our international partners continue to see growth opportunities and are encouraged by our plans to modernise the UK business.

“Trading conditions remain challenging, but we are making progress building the foundations for the future of the business both in the UK and across our international territories. Our vision is clear, to be the leading global retailer for parents and young children.”

Mothercare reduces UK losses as turnaround continues