Worldwide network sales for the 28-week period surged 4.4% to £637.7m while total group sales fell by 2% to £376.3m, as against £384.1m in the corresponding period a year ago.

International retail sales grew by 13% to £399.3m in constant currencies during the first half. International like-for-like sales increased 4.8%.

In contrast, UK like-for-like sales fell by 1.4%. Total UK sales totaled £238.4m.

Mothercare chairman Alan Parker said the group has delivered its first half year underlying profit since 2010/11. International continued to see double-digit growth while the UK’s losses have been reduced.

"Our geographic diversification has supported these results amid some challenging trading conditions. The business is moving to a firmer footing," Parker added.

During the period, the chain closed additional 18 loss making stores. Growth in total direct sales, with click-and-collect now in all stores in advance of peak trading

Mothercare chief executive Simon Calver said the chain’s 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.

"We are planning for consumer spending to remain subdued in the UK during the second half of the year. We have made progress with our Transformation and Growth plan, but there is more to do. We continue to strengthen our position, becoming the world’s leading mother and baby specialist," Calver added.

The chain operates 1,156 stores in 59 countries.