Mothercare is bringing back former strategy and ecommerce director Anna James in a newly created role as group marketing director.
James, who moved to Carphone Warehouse as UK marketing director in 2008, will return to the kids retailer later this year and be responsible for marketing, direct operations and strategy. She will report directly to chief executive Ben Gordon.
Mothercare also revealed last week it had bought the trademark and brand of maternity and baby fashion retailer Blooming Marvellous. The brand, which has eight stores, will be sold only online and in Mothercare stores, with the standalone shops closing. It will relaunch at the start of next year.
Gordon said: “We will develop the brand alongside Mothercare and Early Learning Centre within stores. There is a great opportunity for the brand internationally.”
He blamed Mothercare’s fall in like-for-like sales in the UK, which were down 4.1% in the 12 weeks
to July 10, on strong comparatives for the same period last year and some cannibalisation of stores where it had opened larger out-of-town shops. Gordon said: “We are taking a cautious view going ahead and continue to plan for a cautious period.”
He said the retailer still has strong growth through its direct business, up 14%, and international, which grew 20%. “Mothercare is in the best condition it has ever been in,” he added. “We have terrific product coming through.”
The retailer also revealed last week that it has taken a 25% stake in Headline Group, which runs its franchises in Australia and New Zealand. It said the move was to help Headline with the resources it needs to accelerate the growth of the brands across the two countries.
Mothercare will take the holding via convertible loan notes worth £7.2m, which will convert to Headline shares. International is an increasingly important part of Mothercare’s business. It has 1,167 stores in 53 countries.