Mulberry first-half pre-tax profits dropped 28% to £7.2m as it continued to invest in its international expansion.

Retail like-for-likes advanced 4% and total retail sales increased 6% to £49.5m in the six months to September 30. Over the nine weeks to November 30, retail sales were up 3%.

UK retail sales rose 5% in the half. International retail sales soared 29% over the half and accelerated 49% in the last nine weeks. Total sales, including wholesale, edged up 2% to £78.1m.

Mulberry launched nine new international stores over the period and opened a second UK factory in Somerset.

The luxury retailer’s chief executive Bruno Guillon said: “During the period, we completed the construction of our new Somerset factory on time and to budget and the intensive training of the 240 new staff recruited so far is progressing well. The factory is already in production and is expected to be at full capacity by mid-2014, allowing us to achieve our target of making 50% of our handbags in England for autumn/winter 14.”

It has opened two stores since the end of the half and is on track to open 15 over the year, including a Paris flagship on Rue Saint-Honoré, a key tourist destination, which Guillon said would “generate global visibility for the Mulberry brand”.

Mulberry launched a new global web platform in July to help enhance customer experience across all channels and increase language and content capability.