Like-for-like sales at maternity specialist Mothercare’s core UK business climbed 5.1 per cent in the first quarter.

UK total sales rose 3.1 per cent and group turnover advanced 9.4 per cent.

The retailer’s overseas operations notched up a 32.7 per cent sales increase, helped by the weakness of sterling and 30 store openings. Mothercare now has 639 shops abroad.

Chairman Ian Peacock said multichannel sales rose on a like-for-like basis and sales through the Direct business jumped 17.4 per cent.

Peacock said: “The summer Sale is progressing in line with plan and we enter the new season with a clean stock position.

“Whilst this has been a positive start to the year, we continue to manage the business tightly in an uncertain global consumer environment.”

Numis analyst Andy Wade said Mothercare’s performance was “comfortably ahead of expectations of a 2 per cent like-for-like rise in the UK.