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Mothercare to swing axe on 50 stores and bring back sacked boss

By Simon Penfold | Business | Published:

Mothercare is to swing the axe on 50 underperforming stores and re-hire the chief executive it sacked just weeks ago as part of a wide-ranging shake-up.

Mothercare says 50 of its stores are to close

The closures, which is expected to result in around 800 job losses, will be carried out through a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) - a move which allows companies to close loss-making shops and secure rental discounts.

Mothercare employs about 3,000 people across 137 outlets in the UK, including branches in Walsall, Stafford, Telford and at Merry Hill shopping centre. It will have just 78 by 2020, down to 72 two years after that.

The company is not yet saying which stores will close. In a statement this morning Mothercare said: "We can’t comment on individual store closures until all staff have been informed, which is our absolute priority.

"Of course we regret having to close stores and the impact this will have on colleagues. However, we had no alternative to executing a CVA.

"The business was in an unsustainable situation and was in clear need of an appropriate resolution and today’s comprehensive measures provide a renewed and stable financial structure for the business, and will allow Mothercare to accelerate its adaptation to the shifting dynamic towards online."

Meanwhile, in a move that will stun many observers, Mark Newton Jones, who was given the elbow as chief executive last month, will return to the fold and once again take the top job.

The man that had been brought in to replace him, David Wood, will now become managing director.

As part of the restructuring, Mothercare also announced a refinancing package worth up to £113.5 million.

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It comprises £28 million through an equity capital raising, an extension of its existing debt to £67.5 million, £18 million in shareholder and trade partner loans.

Chairman Clive Whiley said: "The recent financial performance of the business, impacted in particular by a large number of legacy loss-making stores within the UK estate, has resulted in an unsustainable situation for the Mothercare brand, meaning the group was in clear need of an appropriate resolution.

"These comprehensive measures provide a renewed and stable financial structure for the business and will drive a step change in Mothercare's transformation.

"These measures provide a solid platform from which to reposition the group and begin to focus on growth, both in the UK and internationally."

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Retailers across the board have been battered by weak consumer confidence off the back of soaring Brexit-fuelled inflation.

They have also had to contend with surging wage costs and eye-watering business rate hikes.

Since January, Toys R Us and Maplin have filed for administration while fashion retailers such as New Look and Select have embarked on radical store closure programmes.

Simon Penfold

By Simon Penfold
Business Editor - @SPenfold_star

Business Editor based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton, looking for stories big & small.

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