Mothercare has reported UK like-for-like sales up 4.1% in its first half and remains “confident” for the rest of the year.

For the first half ending October 10, Mothercare reported group sales up 8.2%, and total UK sales up 2.6%. International like-for-likes were up 1%.

For the second quarter, the mother and baby retailer reported UK like-for-likes up 3%, total group sales up 7% and total UK sales up 2%.

Chief executive Ben Gordon said: “This strong trading performance has offset the increases in costs arising from the continuing weakness of sterling, pensions and share based payments. Whilst the economic environment remains uncertain, our first half performance and the strategic initiatives we have taken give us confidence for the rest of the year.”

For the first half, Mothercare’s Direct in Home sales were up 14.4%, international retail sales up 27.3% and international like-for-like sales were up 1%.

In the second quarter Direct in Home sales are up 11.3% and international retail sales were up 23.2%.

Gordon said: “The Mothercare and Early Learning Centre brands have performed well across all channels. International continues to grow strongly with 62 new stores opened in the first half, on track to meet our target of 100 new overseas stores this year.

We have opened our fourth store in China, where the brand is gaining increased recognition. We will also launch Mothercare in Australia and the Early Learning Centre in South Africa during the second half.

“Our multi-channel UK business recorded positive like-for-like sales growth for the seventeenth consecutive quarter, helped by the performance of Direct and the success of the Early Learning Centre inserts in larger Mothercare stores. In September we announced the acquisition of the remaining 50% of, the rapidly growing social networking site for parents.”