Kiddicare’s new owner Endless remains confident it can restore the maternity retailer to health and has defended store closure proposals.
In his first interview since acquiring Kiddicare, Endless managing partner Garry Wilson told Retail Week: “It is a difficult situation with store closures. But every store is heavily loss-making. We’re not closing stores for the sake of it. We’ve been tasked with performing surgery.
“Fundamentally Kiddicare is a good ecommerce business and we need to make sure it’s not dragged down by the heavily loss-making stores.”
He added his “primary concern” was ensuring employees are “properly treated” and that the business was adequately capitalised.
Between 700 and 800 job losses are expected should the shops close. Morrisons has retained the liabilities relating to leases, and it is understood retailers including Next and Dunelm are eyeing the stores, which average around 35,000 sq ft.
However, Morrisons, which said it was “confident” the £163m provision it has set aside will cover “all costs associated with its exit from the business”, could have its work cut out reletting the stores as retailers scale back expansion plans.
Kiddicare was run as a successful etailer before being acquired in 2011 by Morrisons, which subsequently opened 10 Kiddicare stores, contributing to the maternity specialist reporting spiraling losses.
Endless has appointed Chris Yates as managing director to lead the turn around. He has won praise from experts in the industry for reviving Australian fashion and accessories retailer Lovisa, where he was chief executive. Before that he was retail director at Jessops.
But reviving Kiddicare will not be easy in a maternity market that is in a state of flux. Mothercare issued a profit warning in January and new boss Mark Newton-Jones is embarking on a turnaround plan. Mamas & Papas sought funding from Liberty owner Blue Gem this month as part of a survival strategy that could include store closures.
Both have been hit by fierce competition from Amazon as well as the supermarkets.
Kiddicare's stores to close as ex-Jessops director takes the helm
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Kiddicare owner Endless confident in revival and defends store closure proposals