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Mothercare badly needs some mothering

Published: Friday, November 25, 2016 7:57 PM    |     Modified: Friday, November 25, 2016 7:57 PM

Mothercare is a retailer that seems to be in semi-permanent need of some tlc.

The latest set of results saw the company back in the red as a warehouse shake up that kept product from getting onto the company’s shelves, and a less than stellar summer, hit sales in its home market.

The costs of its seemingly interminable turn around programme rocked the leaky boat still further, leaving Morthercare in the red to the tune of £8.8m at home for the first half of the year. That is a marked deterioration on the previous year.

The best of it is the City had been fretting about the international business and hoping for a revival in the UK. The chances of that won’t be helped much by the fact that prices are going to go up on account of that weak pound everyone’s talking about.

Chief executive Mark Newton-Jones insists that, despite its very obvious problems, his company is making progress “with its strategic pillars”. Whatever that means.

He’s hoping for better in the second half, which includes the all important Christmas period during which retailers make most of their money. Mr Newton-Jones says trading has started in line with his expectations, which is good, but it really needs to continue. The message from the stock market couldn’t have been more clear. It bombed the already bombed out shares some more.

“What you’re saying is all very well, but we’d like to see it borne out by the results if that’s all right with you,” is what Mr Newton-Jones should have taken from that.

If that doesn’t happen, and really, quite soon, he’ll be the latest Mothercare CEO to be out of the revolving doors.

This is a business that needs some serious mothering if it is to make good on its boast of being “the leading global retailer for parents and young children”.

Perhaps it needs a mother in the CEO’s chair too? It might be worth a try.

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