Mothercare has signed a second joint venture in India, with DLF Brands, the retail division of a local property giant, to accelerate its expansion there.

The nursery specialist, which has 23 shops in India, has increased its target store count from 100 to 200 after the deal, which it said would complement its existing partnership with Indian retailer Shopper’s Stop.

Mothercare chief executive Ben Gordon said: “There are lots of positive growth stories for India. India and China went nowhere near recession, just slowed down, but growth is picking up.”

Numis analyst Andrew Wade said the deal was good news for Mothercare, as India has a population of 1.2 billion and a birth rate double that of the UK. He said the deal “leaves
the business with equity stakes in its two largest markets in the world, underpinning the medium term (India) and the longer term (China) international growth story.” 

Mothercare also said it will launch stores in Australia in its second half and take its Early Learning Centre business to South Africa.

The retailer continued to increase sales in its first half. Total revenue rose 8.2% and international like-for-likes advanced 1%. Mothercare now has 1,060 stores in 51 countries.

Gordon was confident for the rest of the year and said availability is “as good as it has ever been”.

He expected the ELC robot toy to be a Christmas best-seller and said that its toys range would be given more space in Mothercare stores and in new ELC stores this year.