Mothercare plans to make store closures

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A FIRM that provides new parents with specialist products and services has announced its decision to close 110 stores across the UK by 2013.

Following a slump in sales, with pre-tax profits down 23.4 per cent from last year to £28.5 million, Mothercare aims to take advantage of around 110 up-and-coming lease expiries and around 40 rent renegotiations.

Over the next two years it is expected that the company will reduce its number of high street stores and move into larger out of town stores that will be able to provide customers with a wider range of products and the use of Early Learning Centres.

It is not yet known whether Mothercare, in Brentgovel Street, Bury St Edmunds, will be one of the stores affected.

A spokeswoman for Mothercare said: “We are not disclosing a list of stores today.

“This will happen over a two-year period as leases come up for expiry.

“We do not expect this to result in more than 250 redundancies and we will do what we can to bring that number down further.”

Chief executive Ben Gordon said: “Over the last three years we have been reshaping the UK business for a changing retail landscape by downsizing the in-town property portfolio and growing Direct and Wholesale.

“Today we are announcing plans to accelerate our UK property strategy and transform the store portfolio over the next two years, benefiting from the unique position of having over 40 per cent of our high street leases expiring by March 2013.

“This will substantially reduce our exposure to the UK high street, further reduce our operational leverage and allow us to focus on out-of-town Parenting Centres, Direct and our new Wholesale business.”