Mothercare is testing the appetite for its products and services in the US with the launch of its networking site Gurgle.
Dedicated sites for the US and India have gone live and links to Mothercare’s UK transactional web site will be added to these sites in the next few months.

Although Mothercare insisted that the initiative was not a precursor to imminent store openings in the US, it said it has had consumer interest from America and already sells a small number of products from its UK site to US shoppers.

In India Mothercare plans to increase its store count from 20 to 100 in the next five years.

The retailer has launched Gurgle in the two new markets because there are no translation barriers and has tailored the sites’ content to reflect local differences.

Mothercare chief executive Ben Gordon confirmed there would be a further roll-out of the site. He said: “Gurgle could be a global concept – the content on it is getting better and better.”

As Gurgle celebrates its first anniversary this month, it has notched up 70,000 members and 500,000 visitors a month and has broken even.
Mothercare was one of the first big store groups to launch its own networking site, which it created in partnership with digital marketing agency MediaBurn.

Last week Mothercare reported that total group sales were up 9.9 per cent in the 28 weeks to October 11. UK like-for-like sales were slightly ahead at 0.8 per cent and 9 per cent up at its international business.

Gordon added: “We are trading resiliently, which means our strategy is working. The Early Learning Centre integration is going very well.”
Since it completed its acquisition of Early Learning Centre in June last year, Mothercare has doubled the number of the toy retailer’s intern-ational stores.

Gordon said that the group’s booming international operations, now worth 30 per cent of its total business, have helped it maintain growth through the downturn. In total it has 572 stores around the world, trading in 49 countries.