Mothercare may be up for sale if last-mile financing fails

Sun, 08 Apr 2018 | BUSINESS SALE

Struggling baby and toddler clothing retailer Mothercare is fast running out of cash and believed to be investigating new avenues to raise finance quickly.

If these initiatives fail, it is near certain that the share price of Mothercare will spiral downwards, leaving the firm as easy pickings for retail vulture funds and entrepreneurs looking for distressed turnaround opportunities.

Mothercare has called in KPMG for restructuring advice and has been in talks with its lenders, including Barclays and HSBC about raising funding limits. It is believed the lenders have agreed temporary advances till May. It is possible they had a hand in the removal of CEO Mark Newton-Jones who was appointed to the position four years ago. Newton-Jones, who has spent his time trying to move the business more firmly into the online arena, was jettisoned suddenly last Wednesday and replaced with ex-Tesco man David Wood.

Online sales have not increased as fast as expected and indeed dropped 6.9 per cent over the Christmas quarter, nearly as bad as the 7.2 per cent fall in store sales over the period.

The cashflow crisis is believed to be at an emergency level with the talks at KPMG involving Mothercare entering into a company voluntary arrangement (CVA). In this scenario one of the obvious moves would be to immediately shut down loss-producing stores.

Founded by James Goldsmith and Selim Zilkhar in 1961, Mothercare has grown into a global business with over 1000 international franchises and 140 stores in the UK. The business recorded a £16.8m pre-tax loss in the half-year to October 2017, on sales of £340m.


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