Belfast Telegraph

Uncertainty over Mothercare's Northern Ireland stores as retailer announces closures

Hundreds of jobs at risk as 50 closures confirmed

Uncertainty hangs over the future of Northern Ireland's five Mothercare stores after the retailer said it was to close 50 shops across the UK.

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Mothercare said it would not confirm which stores are to close until after all staff have been informed.

It is to close 50 underperforming stores in a move which will affect around 800 jobs.

The closures will be carried out through a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) – a move which allows companies to close loss-making shops and secure rental discounts.

Mothercare employs about 3,000 people across 137 outlets. It has stores in Newtownabbey, Lisburn, Newry, Bangor and Derry.  Its Belfast city centre store closed in March 2017.

Mark Newton Jones, who was sacked as chief executive last month, is to return to his job. David Wood, who was his replacement, will now become managing director. As part of the restructuring, Mothercare also announced a refinancing package worth up to £113.5m

Chairman Clive Whiley said: “The recent financial performance of the business, impacted in particular by a large number of legacy loss-making stores within the UK estate, has resulted in an unsustainable situation for the Mothercare brand, meaning the group was in clear need of an appropriate resolution.

“These comprehensive measures provide a renewed and stable financial structure for the business and will drive a step change in Mothercare’s transformation.

“These measures provide a solid platform from which to reposition the group and begin to focus on growth, both in the UK and internationally.”

Retailers across the board have been battered by weak consumer confidence off the back of soaring Brexit-fuelled inflation. They have also had to contend with surging wage costs and eye-watering business rate hikes.

Since January, Toys R Us and Maplin have filed for administration while fashion retailers such as New Look and Select have embarked on radical store closure programmes.

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