The Mothercare group is comprised principally of two iconic retail brands with international appeal; Mothercare and Early Learning Centre
The group's brands operate through three distinct channels to market; UK stores, Direct (being the in-home and in-store internet-based businesses and catalogue mail order), and International, under which the group franchises (or participates in joint venture) operations delivering the Mothercare and Early Learning Centre brand retail operations in overseas markets.
Mothercare and Early Learning Centre
The Mothercare and Early Learning Centre brands are synonymous with children and parenting. Both brands carry with them a reputation for specialism, quality, safety and innovation in providing products and services for mothers, mothers-to-be, babies and young children. Both brands are passionate about their commitment to offering customers a multi-channel shopping environment through retail stores, catalogues and the internet, so that parents can meet the needs and aspirations for their children, worldwide.
Gurgle.com is a social networking site targeted at new parents and leverages the expertise and authority of the Mothercare brand via the provision of specialist information.
Our global reach
The group sources the products it sells globally so as to anticipate and meet the needs of its customers. We do this by having people in our key operating countries. Whilst the principal office of the group is in the United Kingdom, it has invested significant resources in its sourcing and supply chain operations in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bangalore, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates so that we can better understand and serve our customers' needs. Our buying and sourcing teams develop innovative products with our manufacturers; our supply chain partners help us deliver them through our warehouses to stores around the world where finally our retail and customer teams deliver specialist service to our customers. This specialist knowledge and service differentiates us from the competition thereby enhancing the Mothercare and Early Learning Centre brands.
Mothercare is a specialist retailer of products for mothers-to-be, babies and children up to the age of eight. Mothercare opened its first store in 1961 in Surrey. Initially the business focused on pushchairs, nursery furniture and maternity clothing, but it subsequently expanded its range to include clothing for children up to the age of five and later up to the age of eight. It now offers a wide range of maternity and children's clothing, furniture and home furnishings, bedding, feeding, bathing, travel equipment and toys through its retail operations in the United Kingdom, and also operates internationally through franchises in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Far East under the 'Mothercare' brand name.
The business started its mail order business in 1962. In 1972, Mothercare first became a public company, and in 1982 Mothercare merged with the Habitat chain of retailers to form Habitat Mothercare plc. In 1984, Mothercare began to expand internationally through entering into franchise arrangements with select partners in chosen countries. In 1986, Habitat Mothercare plc merged with British Home Stores plc. During the 1990s the merged group was rationalised. In 2000, Mothercare became the sole brand and the holding company's name was changed to Mothercare plc.
In June 2007, the group acquired Chelsea Stores Holdings Limited, the owner of the Early Learning Centre (ELC) brand.
ELC was founded in 1974 originally as a mail order business offering toys and books with educational content. The first ELC retail store opened in Reading later the same year. In 1985, ELC was acquired by John Menzies plc who continued to expand the estate and ELC became a well-known high street brand. In September 2001, ELC was the subject of a management buyout, during which ELC streamlined its operations, exited non-profitable product categories and stores and grew its sourcing operation in Asia.
Gurgle.com, a social networking site for new mothers was launched in 2007.