What's Wrong With Mothercare? It's Expensive and Dated, Say Parents

The store has announced plans to put its UK retail business into administration.

Mothercare, purveyor of baby clothes and prams and a stalwart of the high street since 1961, has announced plans to put its UK retail business into administration, putting 2,500 jobs at risk.

In a statement, Mothercare said it had undertaken a “root and branch review” of the company since May 2018.

Through this process, it has become clear that the UK retail operations “are not capable of returning to a level of structural profitability and returns that are sustainable,” the notice said.

“Furthermore, the company is unable to continue to satisfy the ongoing cash needs of Mothercare UK.”

Andrew Yates / Reuters

But what do parents make of the store’s offering? HuffPost UK headed to Kingston in Surrey, a major shopping town, earlier in 2019 to ask parents on the high street what they thought – and where else was doing better.

Dunia Alhaydari, 27, two children: ‘It’s too crowded in store.’

Sara Spary

“I sometimes shop at Mothercare, I’d say once every couple of months to buy clothes and toys but I also shop in Next, Joules, and M&S - and I’d say their quality is much better and the clothes sizes are a little bit bigger than at Mothercare,” Alhaydari, out shopping with her young daughter, told HuffPost UK.

“Sometimes I find that Mothercare clothes shrink and that they’re a bit more expensive as well. I also shop online. In store at Mothercare it’s a bit boring and the staff seem unhappy. It’s also crowded.”

Erynn Kortekaas, 35, two children: ‘I wouldn’t go there for clothing.’

Sara Spary

“When my son was newborn I shopped at Mothercare often, but now not at all,” Kortekaas, a mother of a six-year-old and 18-month-old son told HuffPost UK.

“I shop at H&M and Marks & Spencer sometimes - maybe because I go into H&M for myself also, but also because the prices are very good and the quality is reasonable for the price of the clothes.

“I think for buying things like buggies and car seats it’s so useful to go in somewhere like Mothercare where you can see things in person, and where they have a wide selection - but I guess I wouldn’t go there for clothing.”

Ryan Moore, 36, one child: ‘I find it a bit dated.’

Sara Spary

“We initially shopped there when he was born because he was our first born and we didn’t know of any shops,” Moore told HuffPost UK. “I just find it a little bit dated. These days we tend to shop more at places like Zara and H&M.

“We just found just even walking in to Mothercare that the layout is not particularly great - even the stock feels dated even though it’s probably brand new and current. Maybe it’s the shop fittings that don’t really best sell the products.

“We tend to use the high street more for shopping for the baby than online. John Lewis are quite good.”

Laura, 29, one child: ‘I really like it, it’s convenient.’

Laura, a 29-year-old mother of one who only wished to share her first name, told HuffPost UK: “I shop at Mothercare I’d say once every few months. I really like it – it’s convenient and we got our pram from there.

“I think sometimes the problem possibly is that, especially being a new mum, I go more and more online to do my shopping because it’s really hard to get out of the house sometimes.

“When I was pregnant, I actually went there more often than now. One thing I do find in Mothercare is the sizing isn’t quite right, whereas somewhere like JoJo Maman Bébé fits better, so I tend to go to those kind of shops before I go to Mothercare. But I do like Mothercare.”

Jamelia Mulvey, 25, one child: ‘It’s more expensive than competitors but with good customer service.’

Sara Spary

“I do shop in Mothercare but not that often, probably once or twice every couple of months. I’ve never had any problems in Mothercare, for example if I’ve needed a refund they’ve always been really great,” says Jamelia, who has a 10-month-old baby.

“It’s definitely a lot more expensive [than other competitors] - for example even their formula is more expensive than it would be in a supermarket,” she told HuffPost UK.“Some shops don’t sell what they have - for example some of their babygrows, bags or buggies are limited edition.

“Otherwise I shop a little bit of everywhere - Primark, Gap, Next, H&M.”