Mothercare has revealed strong full-year sales, with a stellar performance from its international division.

Total group sales in the fourth quarter to March 28 were up 5.6 per cent. UK like-for-likes rose 3.7 per cent, with total sales in the UK up 1.3 per cent.

Internationally – Mothercare has 1,014 stores in 51 countries – sales grew 40 per cent.

The retailer’s multichannel division, Direct in Home, recorded a 26.7 per cent rise in sales.

On a full-year basis, total group sales rose 6.9 per cent or 2.8 per cent on a proforma basis, which includes the impact of the acquisition of the Early Learning Centre in June 2007. UK like-for-likes grew 1.4 per cent with total UK sales up 2.4 per cent, down 1.5 per cent on a proforma basis.

International sales soared 44.5 per cent in the year, or 40.9 per cent, proforma. International like-for-likes were ahead 6 per cent for the full year and 4 per cent in the second half.

Direct in Home full-year sales rose 30.6 per cent, a 22.4 per cent proforma uplift.

The retailer said that gross margins in the UK are in line with expectations. It expects margins to come under further pressure in the new financial year due to the weakness of sterling. However, they will be partly offset by currency gains in its international division.

Chief executive Ben Gordon said: “The UK business has now delivered 15 consecutive quarters of like-for-like sales growth. UK sales have been boosted by robust performances from the Direct business and the Early Learning Centre inserts now in 84 Mothercare stores, and both brands have gained market share in the quarter.

“We continue to manage the business tightly to mitigate the effect of currency movements. The group remains debt free.”