Mothercare, the retail chain for mothers and babies has announced a 25 per cent increase in online sales in its preliminary results. The high street store also announced plans to enter overseas markets using its online business model.

The Mothercare Direct business delivered a profit of £107.3 million in the 52 weeks ending 28 March 2009, an increase of 25 per cent. On the back of this performance Mothercare said it is to extend its Direct business overseas. Mothercare will franchise out the fulfilment side of its overseas Direct business, but retain a centralised online service. Online sales to the home were up by 24.9 per cent to 62.2 million and the Direct in Store service of ordering online whilst within a Mothercare store saw sales rise by 26.3 per cent to £45.1 million.

Mothercare also reported significant success with its Web 2.0 strategy. Gurgle.com, a social network for parents now has 91,000 registered users and as a result has been able to use that brand to launch a set of advice books in association with publisher Harper Collins.

In its statement to investors Mothercare said the integration of the Early Learning Centre toyshop brand was "largely complete" and already delivering benefits. Group sales were up by 6.9 per cent to £723.6m.