Jobs blow for Ipswich Mothercare as all stores earmarked for closure
PUBLISHED: 08:41 06 November 2019 | UPDATED: 08:41 06 November 2019
Around 16 staff at Ipswich Mothercare face an uncertain future as administrators called in by the troubled retailer said it announced the phased closure of all 79 of its remaining shops, putting 2,500 jobs at risk.
The Copdock Mothercare survived a massive cull undertaken last year by the baby goods chain to try to save the UK arm of the business - which resulted in the loss of 58 outlets. It follows losses of £36.3m across the UK operation.
However, the international Mothercare brand, which operates 1000 stores across 40 territories, continues to be successful, and the company said it was still holding discussions "to ensure that the group has an ongoing retail presence in the UK".
Zelf Hussain, of administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), said the decision had been taken "with real regret". "Our focus will be to help employees and keep the stores trading for as long as possible. This is a sad moment for a well-known high street name."
In May 2018, Mothercare began a root and branch review of the group and its UK operations, including a number of discussions with potential partners.
"Through this process, it has become clear that the UK retail operations of the group, which today includes 79 stores, are not capable of returning to a level of structural profitability and returns that are sustainable," it said.
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The group is understood to be looking at options which could include finding a partner to keep the Mothercare brand alive online, or a supermarket that has space to sell Mothercare-branded products.
Mothercare said it had raised £3.2m from a group of existing investors, including its biggest shareholder - sheep farmer and investment banker Richard Griffiths.
Mothercare chairman Clive Whiley said without taking the action it had, the existence of the wider group would be threatened. "Despite the changes implemented over the last 18 months contributing to a significant reduction in net debt over the same period, Mothercare UK continues to consume cash on an unsustainable basis," he said.
British high streets were facing "a near existential problem" with high rates and rents and customers deciding to shop online, he added.
"It is with deep regret and sadness that we have been unable to avoid the administration of Mothercare UK and Mothercare Business Services, and we fully understand the significant impact on those UK colleagues and business partners who are affected.
"However, the board concluded that the administration processes serve the wider interests of ensuring a sustainable future for the company, including the wider group's global colleagues, its pension fund, lenders and other stakeholders."
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