Mulberry has recorded a strong start to the second half of the year with like-for-likes up 11% despite a fall in first half profit.

Pre-tax profit fell 36% to £10m in the first half as the retailer invested in improving the quality of its products and international expansion.

The luxury retailer said retail sales rose 19% in the nine week to December 1, an increase in pace from the 13% sales growth and 7% like-for-like uplift in the first six months to September 30.

First half group sales rose 6% to £76.5m as growth in retail was offset by a decline in wholesale sales.

UK retail sales were up 9% to £39.2m in the first half. Mulberry said UK full price sales performed well, up 14% compared with the same period last year.

UK outlet sales were weaker, down 13%, in part due to a strategic decision to cease making product specifically for the outlet business.

International retail sales were up 40% to £7.3m. Mulberry opened stores in San Francisco, New Jersey, Zurich and a shop-in-shop in Berlin during the period and said it remains “confident in our international expansion strategy”.

Online sales were up 44% to £6.9m for the first half of the year, accounting for 9% of group sales.

Mulberry will have opened 17 to 20 new stores by the end of the financial year.

The retailer said it expects full-year profits to be in line with expectations.

Mulberry chief executive Bruno Guillon said: “Profit before tax for the period was below last year, mainly reflecting quality initiatives and increased investment in international retail expansion to drive future growth

“We continue to focus on creativity, craftsmanship and quality and will place great emphasis on reinforcing Mulberry’s luxury positioning through the quality of our products, retail experience, marketing communications and choice of distribution channels. During the period, we have rationalised certain wholesale accounts and refocused the outlet business which has impacted financial performance in the short term. However we firmly believe that this is in the long term interests of transforming Mulberry into a global luxury brand.”