Mothercare announced that online and UK sales were healthy in the first quarter for the mothering and baby care retail chain.

The Mothercare Direct business, which includes online orders and delivery to the home as well as store based online orders and delivery, saw sales increase by 17.4 per cent. Mothercare reported total group sales increase by 9.4 per cent. International sales through its franchise business were particularly good in Russia. Overseas sales increased by 32.7 per cent.

Sales in the UK were also strong, total UK sales were up 3.1 per cent and like-for-like sales up by 5.1 per cent.

"The multi-channel UK business again grew like-for-like sales, helped by the performance of Direct," said Ian Peacock, the Mothercare chairman. "This has been another strong sales performance with both the Mothercare and Early Learning Centre brands."

Today's quarter one result follow a healthy year end result for the Mothercare online business, which reported a 25 per cent increase in online sales for 2008. Last year Mothercare completed its integration of the Early Learning Centre toy shop brand it acquired.