Gifts Today magazine

The Entertainer acquires Early Learning Centre

Mothercare has offloaded its Early Learning Centre business to The Entertainer for £13.5 million

The UK store closure programme, which will result in a total estate of 80 stores by the end of March 2019, is ahead of the original schedule and brings the Mothercare Group down from 137 stores in May 2018.

The revised Group structure at Mothercare has been designed to drive a greater focus towards strengthening its global brand, with improved product design, marketing and distribution of Mothercare products around the world. At the same time the UK management team is now singularly focused upon operating with the discipline of a typical franchise partner, with the objective of bringing the UK business back towards profitability.

Throughout the last nine months they have been progressively reducing net debt, and their aspiration remains to be bank debt free by the end of 2019. This objective has been greatly assisted by the sale and leaseback of the UK head office for a cash consideration of £14.5 million, which completed in December 2018.

Mark Newton-Jones, CEO of Mothercare commented: 'We have made significant progress in recent months as we continue our strategic transformation to deliver a sustainable and profitable future for Mothercare. 'This disposal of Early Learning Centre provides a further step towards eliminating our bank debt, and our new concession arrangements with The Entertainer will bring our customers an even stronger Toys offer, both in stores and online. We look forward to working with the team at The Entertainer in the years to come. We will update further at our full year results in May.'

The Entertainer executive chairman Gary Grant told Retail Gazette: 'By combining our experience with that of ELC’s passionate and capable partners around the world we look forward to re-invigorating the brand for generations to come.'

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