Baby and motherhood retailer Mothercare is benefiting from its investment into online and in-store electronic catalogues as it reports increased sales. Mothercare said its fourth quarter sales are better than expected, but forecasts that 2009 will be a difficult year for the retailer.

Mothercare reported that it's Direct in Home business, which consists of the online store as well as the ability to buy goods in store but have them delivered to your home as seen sales rise by 30.6 per cent. A spokesperson for Mothercare said its strategy is to use the high street stores as showrooms and then deliver goods directly to the consumer's home.

Group wide sales were up 5.6 per cent, with UK like-for-like sales up 3.7 per cent, which includes Direct in Home sales.

Mothercare acquired toy store chain the Early Learning Centre in 2007 and the integration of the business has been going well. Although the high street has been reporting slowing sales for the last half year, Mothercare may be benefiting from parents continuing to spend money on their children in place of spending money on themselves.

"We expect gross margins to come under further pressure due to the weakness of Sterling," Mothercare said, "However, we expect this to be partly offset by currency gains in International."