Mothercare to remain open in the Middle East amid shutdown of UK stores

The baby goods retailer will close all its 79 stores in the UK over the coming months

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 19, 2018 Shoppers walk past a Mothercare shop on Wood Green High Street in north London on June 19, 2018. Britain's baby products retailer Mothercare said on November 4, 2019 it was putting its loss-making UK business into administration at a risk of more than 2,000 jobs. / AFP / Tolga Akmen
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Global retailer Mothercare will carry out a phased closure of all its UK stores, with thousands of people set to lose their jobs. The announcement came after the brand appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers as administrators on Tuesday. The company operates 79 retail stores in the UK, and 1,010 overseas franchise stores across 40 territories.

But for stores in the UAE – in various malls across Abu Dhabi and Dubai as well as in Sharjah and Fujairah – it will be business as usual.

The British brand, founded in 1961, has been dogged by financial problems for years, and has been gradually cutting its store count in the UK. In May 2018, it shut 50 stores after a restructuring process aimed at reducing losses.

Despite this, trading has remained challenging, with "difficult market conditions, reduced consumer spending and a fundamental change in high street retail" being factors, according to PwC.

"This is a sad moment for a well-known high-street name," said Zelf Hussain, joint administrator and PwC partner. "No one is immune from the challenging conditions faced by the UK retail sector. Like many other retailers, Mothercare has been hit hard by increasing cost pressures and changes in consumer spending."

But while the UK segment has been making a loss for a number of years, international franchises remain profitable and will continue to trade as normal.

"An announcement issued by Mothercare states that it remains 'a significant and profitable international franchise operation'. We will continue to work closely with the brand to serve our customers and deliver our ongoing business plans," said a representative of Al Shaya Group, which handles the franchise in the UAE.

The Kuwait-based group operates more than 300 stores in the Middle East and Russia.