Mothercare hires Exel to manage returns centre

Maternity retailer Mothercare is bringing its reverse logistics operation under one roof in a bid to cut costs and improve customer service.

The retailer has signed supply chain firm Exel to handle all its returned goods, including product recalls. Previously, Mothercare had a number of suppliers.

'It brings much greater efficiencies and significant cost savings,' said a spokeswoman. Customer service should improve because shoppers will deal with one call centre for all product-related enquiries.

Exel will also keep track of why certain items are being returned, enabling Mothercare to improve its ranges.

Mothercare logistics director Colin Astbury said the deal would help protect the Mothercare brand. 'Absolute responsibility and integrity is crucial when you are dealing with products for babies and children,' he said.

Financial details of the Exel deal were not revealed. However, the supply chain firm will manage the whole returns centre, based at Mothercare's distribution centre in Coventry. It will handle queries from Mothercare's 233 UK stores and its e-business arm at Lutterworth in Leicestershire, which deals with Internet and telephone orders for home delivery.

The initiative forms part of chief executive Ben Gordon's turnaround strategy, which is on track, according to recent sales figures. Same-store sales for the 15 weeks to July 9 increased by 4.8 per cent.

Following its acquisition of rival logistics group Tibbett & Britten, finalised last week, Exel is now Mothercare's main logistics partner.