For the 13 week period ended 7 January, group sales were up 1.8%

For the 13 week period ended 7 January, group sales were up 1.8%

Mothercare has reported what analysts say is a "pleasing update" for its third-quarter, as the company continues to reap the rewards in the UK from its turnaround strategy.

For the 13 week period ended 7 January, group sales were up 1.8%. For the firm's UK market, revenues rose 0.6% marking the UK's return to growth after a challenging summer trading period. UK like-for-like sales climbed 1% during the quarter, while online sales grew 5.5%.

Mothercare is almost three years into its far reaching turnaround strategy and has been working to improve its online proposition as part of its aim of becoming a 'digitally led business'. As a result, online sales now represent 40% of total UK sales, which analysts note as "significant" and say points to a retailer which has "long been proactive in its multichannel ambitions".

In the group's international market, sales on a constant currency basis fell 5.9%, reflecting the ongoing currency tailwinds. Meanwhile, China and Russia returned to growth, while Mothercare noted the Middle East remains "challenging".

"We remain firmly focused on our strategy to build our businesses both here in the UK and internationally and our vision remains clear – to be the leading global retailer for parents and young children," said CEO Mark Newton-Jones.

Joe Robinson, senior analyst at Verdict Retail, noted that while the weak sterling has helped to offset weakness in some of the company's international markets, around half of its products are sourced in US dollars. He added that they expect Mothercare will be forced to increase pricing from March onwards.

"While Mothercare continues to make clear strides in many areas, the primary concern for new and expecting parents will always be on price. This is particularly the case for a retailer which has high exposure to basic, everyday products where demand is more price-led and to categories – such as pushchairs –where the branded offer reigns supreme. In the short term at least, Mothercare faces a difficult balancing act between maintaining much needed price competitiveness and its margins."