Downward sales prompt Mothercare to close 111 sites, including 75 Early Learning Centre stores. The move will lead to the loss of 730 jobs.
The flagship mother and baby retailer announced that it would close the stores over the next three years after revealing that UK like-for-like sales had dropped by 9.5 per cent in three months until the end of March.
That decrease followed a three per cent decline in the previous quarter, with the company closing 62 stores – three Mothercare sites and 59 Early Learning Centres – in the last financial year.
The company will close 36 Mothercare sites and 75 Early Learning Centres nationwide. Of the 200 remaining stores, there will be 105 on the high street and 95 out-of-town sites.
The company added that it would slash UK head office payroll costs by up to 16 per cent, which will equate to around 90 roles.
Closures follow a refinancing deal with its banks, HSBC and Barclays, to fund the store reduction programme, increasing lending from £80m to £90m.
However it has been able to maintain a level of buoyancy through overseas sales, with 1,000 stores abroad. International sales grew by 18 per cent in the fourth quarter.
Alan Parker, the company’s executive chairman, said he was confident the closures would enable the company to turn its fortunes around and pledged to accelerate international expansion.
He said: “Mothercare is a great global brand with strong international partners. Today marks the beginning of a three-year turnaround and I am confident we will deliver a sustained recovery and long-term success.”
Retail analysts predict that the company will attempt to expand its online presence, after Simon Calver, the former boss of internet movie rental outfit Lovefilm, became chief executive. He is due to take over in the following weeks.