Mothercare to pursue more celebrity deals

Mothercare was upbeat about its prospects yesterday, despite making a full-year loss as sales dipped slightly. The company said it would dive into more celebrity deals following the success of its Jools Oliver partnership and other big name launches.


Mothercare


Oliver, the wife of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, and herself a well-known influencer, markets her Little Bird collection for babies and toddlers through the retailer.

The company has also linked up with singer/presenter Mylene Klass for the My K collection and recently launched the surprising Smile collection with a designer best known for his sexy eveningwear, Julien Macdonald.

These collections are clearly helping to differentiate the retailer in the kidswear space as it withdraws from offering clothing for older children to focus on the mother, baby and pre-school market where its brand name has the strongest appeal.

“I do see us doing more of that type of upmarket product in the future,” Mothercare CEO Newton-Jones said.

The pre-school focus that the company has pursued since Newton-Jones took over in 2014, with a brief to turn around Mothercare’s fortunes, has allowed extra space for those higher-end collaborations. It has also allowed it to give more in-store space for services that reach its specific target market, such as baby scanning.

Such services will take on greater importance in the firm’s remaining stores as it closes a swathe of outlets in order to focus on the most profitable sites.


Mothercare


On Thursday, Newton-Jones said the store closure plan makes complete sense with there being no need, for instance, for some towns to have five or six stores within a 20-minute drive of each other when one or two would do the job just as well. That’s especially so as online sales make up a disproportionately larger percentage of total turnover compared to retail peers (41%) and continue to head towards half of total sales.

Netwon-Jones also said this week that ex-House of Fraser chief customer office Andy Harding would join in the same, newly created, role on an interim basis in July while the firm searches for a permanent CCO. The move comes after global brand and marketing director Gary Kibble said he would leave in June.

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