Mothercare’s new chief executive Mark Newton-Jones has unveiled a turnaround plan to “fix the basics” at the maternity specialist.
Newton-Jones, who was appointed permanent chief executive last week after holding the role on an interim basis, said he will focus on cost reduction and cash generation, rebuilding gross margin, improving service both online and in-store, and product improvement.
He said the UK arm “needs modernising and requires investment in its infrastructure, its stores and its head office systems.
“As a result many of the retail practices need updating, when we compare ourselves to more modern retailers. However, in spite of this, we still have high levels of customer loyalty and two great brand names in Mothercare and Early Learning Centre”.
Mothercare also today unveiled a UK like-for-like rise of 0.9% in the 15 weeks to July 12. Total sales declined in the UK as Mothercare closed stores.
The retailer said it has reduced discount activity in the UK, which led to “lower sales online at better cash margins, which was in line with expectations”.
International revenues are back in double-digit growth as Mothercare posted a 14.7% sales rise at constant currency as it added 13.3% more space. It now operates 1,476 stores in 60 countries.
“We now need to put in place the building blocks to strengthen the UK performance”
Worldwide network sales edged up 0.2% with group reported sales down 1.8%.
Newton-Jones said that Mothercare’s international arm has a “robust business model with further growth opportunity”.
He added: “I am very much looking forward to leading the Mothercare Group at this pivotal time in its history and to be here to lead the turnaround of the business.
“Mothercare and Early Learning Centre are two iconic UK retail brands which have both developed into significant international businesses, serving parents and young children in 60 countries. We now need to put in place the building blocks to strengthen the UK performance and I believe there is then a tremendous opportunity to take this business forward.
“It will be a pleasure to work alongside Mothercare’s team of passionate and knowledgeable colleagues as we rebuild the UK and continue to grow our global presence.”
Mothercare chairman Alan Parker said: “I am delighted to welcome Mark Newton-Jones as chief executive officer. Mark is a first-class retailer with more than 30 years of experience and a highly successful track record.
“His business transformation expertise gives me confidence that we will achieve our plan to turnaround the UK business and continue our strong International growth.
“Mark has already made a substantial difference in many areas since he joined us, including the introduction of a new approach to trading and we have made an encouraging start to the year. I am pleased that our International business has returned to double-digit constant currency growth and the UK has reported a small positive number for like-for-like sales growth.”