Mothercare chief executive Ben Gordon said it was in the “best shape” it has ever been in the run-up to Christmas as the mother and baby specialist revealed underlying profits up 15.4% in the 28 weeks to October 10.

He revealed details of the rationalisation of its UK property portfolio with more than 90 lower-profit high street stores that have leases expiring in the next three years to be moved, closed, or rentals renegotiated.

This should save Mothercare £10m a year by 2012 and Gordon said this would help to make its UK arm more profitable.

Sales in the UK were up 2.7% to £296.3m, 4% on a like-for-like basis.

It is also planning “landmark” stores, 12 locations for which it has identified. “These will be high footfall locations on high streets,” said Gordon. “Since we revitalised the brands landlords now want us as part of their schemes. These will be best-of-class stores like our shops in Oxford Street and Bluewater.”

He said increasingly he saw stores on the high street as becoming more like “showrooms”, with internet as 20% of its sales.

Mothercare will open more out-of-town sites, 31 in the next few years, as Gordon said these continue to be very popular with customers and profitable.

Sales for Mothercare’s international arm grew 29.6% for the half to £91m and Gordon said that international continued to be the strongest growth area of the business. He said Eastern Europe had performed particularly well for them with China and India still “booming”.