Mothercare has said overseas sales have overtaken UK sales for the first time in its first half.

In the first half, ending October 9, total UK sales were down 0.5%, and like-for-likes were down 3.8%. International retail sales were up 17.3% and like-for-likes were flat.

Chief executive Ben Gordon said: “We continue to see strong results from our global growth strategy. In the first half, overseas retail sales exceeded UK retail sales for the first time, and we now have 1,217 stores worldwide in 54 countries.

“International is growing rapidly and we have opened our 50th store in India and our 800th store overseas. We recently acquired a 25% stake in our Australian franchisee, which will have 60 Mothercare and Early Learning Centre stores in three years through a combination of acquisition and organic growth.

“So far this year we have opened 112 new overseas stores, increasing retail space by 13%. We expect to open at least 150 new overseas stores this year, 50 more than our previous estimate, increasing retail space by at least 20%.”

In the second quarter, UK like-for-like sales were down 3.2% and total UK sales were up 1.8%. International retail sales were up 14.2%.

For the first half, total group sales were up 2.5% and Direct in Home sales were up 15.8%.

Gordon said: “In the UK, Direct again delivered double digit growth and our new wholesale channel was boosted by the successful launch of Mini Club, our new clothing partnership with Boots, already trading in 370 Boots stores. The property restructure is progressing well with 20 smaller in town stores closed and 7 larger Parenting Centres opened in the first half. New store openings are, as expected, reducing UK like-for-like sales whilst improving overall profitability.

“We are benefiting from the strategic initiatives we have taken and the rapid growth of International, Direct and Wholesale. The UK consumer environment remains uncertain, and accordingly we are planning cautiously for the important second half.”