Mothercare: key moments leading to its uncertain future

Mothercare

Ailing baby and maternity retailer Mothercare, the 58 year-old high street stalwart, has announced plans to put its UK business into administration.

The company said it would file a notice to appoint administrators today, casting a shadow over the future of its 79 UK shops and 2,500 employees.

Here are some of the key moments in the decline of what has been on of UK retail’s best known brands:

– 1961

Mothercare is founded by entrepreneurs Selim Zilkha and Sir James Goldsmith.

– 1986

The company becomes part of the Storehouse group after it merges with homeware business Habitat and British Home Stores.

– 2000

The company reverts to the Mothercare brand after the BHS and Habitat businesses are each sold off separately.

– June 2007

The retailer purchases the Early Learning Centre chain of children’s stores for £85 million.

By now, Mothercare has grown to more than 350 outlets in the UK.

– 2017

The retailer has seen a steady decline in sales following the financial crisis, resulting in a number of profit warnings and a steady stream of store closures.

By November, the company has 152 UK stores and warns over the “softening UK market” as half-year losses widen on the back of sliding high street store sales.

– May 2018

Mothercare secures a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) restructuring deal which it says will lead to the closure of 50 stores and affect 800 jobs.

The retailer says it has also agreed rent reductions on another 21 stores as part of the move.

– July 2018

The retailer announces a £32.5 million fundraiser at 19p per share (more than double its current value) to gather proceeds to pay off its significant debts.

The company also says it will close more stores than previously indicated, forecasting a rise to 60 closures, although this eventually results in 55 sites shutting their doors.

– December 2018

The retailer sells and leases back its UK head offices, bringing in £14.5 million, as sales continue to fall in its UK high street stores.

– March 2019

Mothercare announces plans to sell the Early Learning Centre toy business to rival retailer The Entertainer for £13.5 million.

The group says the sale is the “next step towards being free of bank debt”.

– July 2019

The children’s goods business issues a profit warning after it sees UK profit margins improve slower than forecast due to the difficult retail backdrop, despite the major restructuring and cost-saving efforts.

UK sales are decimated by the raft of closures, driving total UK sales down by 23.2% for the 15 weeks to July.

– November 2019

The parent business says it will file a notice to appoint administrators for the UK business as it can no longer “satisfy the cash needs” to keep it afloat.