Mothercare is back in the black for the first time since 2010. Group underlying pre-tax profit rose to £2m in the first half, up from a £1.8m loss last year.

The mother and baby retailer reported total global sales rose 4.4% to £637.7m in the 28 weeks to October 12.

UK like-for-like sales fell 1.4% in the half while international like-for-likes rose 4.8%. Profits in Mothercare’s international division increased 13.5% to £25.2m.

UK losses narrowed to £14.9m from £16.9m last year.

Chief executive Simon Calver said the results show the retailer is making progress in its Transformation and Growth turnaround plan but there remains further work to do.

Mothercare closed 18 loss-making UK stores in the half and continued to refit key shops.

International space increased 11.9% as the retailer opened new stores to notch up 1,156 shops in 59 countries across the globe.

The retailer has now introduced click-and-collect to all its stores ahead of the key Christmas trading period.

Calver said: “The benefits of the changes we are making to the business are clear, with a return to underlying profit. Our international business continues to deliver double-digit growth and the opportunities in these markets remain.

“In the UK, online sales are growing and customer surveys indicate improving satisfaction rates. The newly launched CRM capability will help us improve service levels further as we align our offer to our customers’ needs. We continue to target a return to profit in the UK and the reduced UK operating loss this half year is a step in the right direction.”

He added: “We are planning for consumer spending to remain subdued in the UK during the second half of the year.”