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Mothercare: live webchat with CEO Simon Calver, TODAY, Friday 22 March, 11am

(195 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 20-Mar-13 15:30:20

Simon Calver, Mothercare CEO is joining us for a webchat on Friday 22nd March between 11am and midday. After reading a recent rather, erm, robust MN thread about Mothercare, Simon really wants to hear more of your thoughts and feedback. This is your opportunity to contribute your ideas to help shape the future of Mothercare.

Simon says, 'I'm really looking forward to hearing from many of you in the Mumsnet community and to listen to your thoughts and opinions on a range of subjects. We are working hard to address many of the issues you've raised in the past so I hope you'll join me on Friday when I can update you on what we've done so far and some of our ideas for the future.'

Before joining Mothercare Simon was CEO at LoveFilm and has also worked with Unilever and PepsiCo. He is also a father of two very young children.

Simon looks forward to hearing your thoughts about Mothercare between 11 and 12 on Friday. if you're unable to join us on the day, please post your question in advance on this thread.

gazzalw Wed 20-Mar-13 18:16:23

Hi Simon

We are a bit beyond Mothercare with our two (although DD is only 7 so could theoretically be dressed from there). Whilst DW would shop for baby-related items in Mothercare, by the time DD came along she found the shop expensive and non-inspiring. I would say that apart from using the Mother and Baby facilities (which really need to be revamped to get rid of the pervading dirty nappy smell!) she has probably only ventured in to a branch a couple of times in seven years. The baby/children's clothes seem expensive (and you never get good Sales reductions) and a bit naff/tacky. It seemed a good move putting ELCs within the larger out-of-town branches but even the ELC seems to have gone downhill in past decade or so.

I am sure that there is still a niche market for Mothercare but I think you need to go for a more personalised service, particularly pitched to first-time parents. And you are really missing a trick by not making the clothing range appeal to parents of 5 - 9 year olds who don't necessarily want their DCs dressed as mini-adults.

The whole 'vibe' of the Mothercare brand needs to move away from a rather old-fashioned clinical concept to something that is nurturing, warm and welcoming and goes that bit further (as with the John Lewis' children's deparment) to give parents what they want from pregnancy stage through to the tween stage. Perhaps holding NCT/anti-natal care classes at branches and offering a wider range of pregnancy and parenthood-related services.

Otherwise, good luck. You have quite a task ahead of you!

Meglet Wed 20-Mar-13 21:04:48

We're just coming to the end of the Mothercare age, but the following often put me off the shop and could do with some improvement.

Cleaner toilets. On the several occasions we had to use them they were smelly, out of soap and grubby. Please employ regular cleaners to keep them spotless.

Cut back on the blue is for boys / pink is for girls nonsense. We don't need every toy / item of clothing in a pink or blue version. (Although I think I did see some smashing red / yellow / green welly options when I popped in last time). Lots of us parents were kids in the 70's and 80's when there wasn't such a divide between boy things and girls things, we can cope with unisex clothes and toys you know.

I do have one good thing to say, the Urban Detour 3 wheeler pushchair is ace, mine is over 6yrs old and still going strong. While I won't be having any more children whoever I hand it on to will have many more hundreds of miles out of it. Great design and very robust.

lopopo Wed 20-Mar-13 22:46:03

Hi Simon

I'm a new parent with a 7 month year old. Mothercare was a very strong brand for me but I found your shops to be quite poorly stocked - there never seemed to be the item I needed on the shelf when I wanted it. Your staff however are always friendly and helpful. It's a bit frustrating really - I want to shop with you more but other places are maybe doing it better. John Lewis's click and collect system would be something to look at and I think your clothes are nice but I'm not sure about you positioning. Where do you fit with brands like Next, Gap and JoJo Maman Baby? Why would I buy my kids or maternity wear from you?

Thanks

coppertop Wed 20-Mar-13 23:00:19

I used to use our local branch of Mothercare a lot. The separate feeding room with comfortable chairs was excellent, and the toilet facilities were suitable for pregnant women, toddlers, and older children.

Then the store was renovated and those facilities disappeared completely. They now only have a toilet for people with disabilities, and astonishingly this is kept wedged open at all times. Presumably it is so that no one else uses it but also means that anyone with a disability who goes in there to use it must then go back out to the main area and find a member of staff to remove the wedge. Less than ideal if your disability means that you need to go very quickly. hmm

Who on earth thought that it was a good idea to remove the facilities that your potential customers would be most likely to need?

jbakedbean Thu 21-Mar-13 00:19:22

Morning Simon,
I'm a mother of two boys, 4 and 2, with another baby on the way. As I am the people consultant at a business and IT consultancy which has recently completed some large retail technology change programmes I'm surprised mother are isn't embracing and using technology as a business enabler. Your website, click and collect, evouchers, advertising on other platforms eg ebay etc are all partnerships and opportunities which should be considered.

A lack of consistency in the staff, attitudes vary from exceedingly poor to reasonable interest, high prices without a value add service and a clearly a technology is a cost base and not an enabler approach could all be reasons for people no longer buying into the brand.

What is next for Mothercare in the baby/ toddler retail war?

Here is another one of my ideas: I have plenty more but I quite like this one: putting in a cafe and play area into stores. Why? Opportunities to introduce your brands of baby food and drinks, to parents. We all know how much time mums like to spend chatting to other mums and if you had a small play area (stocked with Mothercare or elc toys, mums would definitely buy toys if they knew before hand that there children liked them), or ran baby music clubs, story time, baby massage clubs, antenatal classes, breast feeding workshops, etc not only would it bring in a lot more traffic plus time spent would increase the likelihood of parents buying more with you. Increase brand loyalty etc. banks have done it, ( just a thought). It would show Mothercare had interest and invested in their products and customers and were not just a retail outlet.

I wish you all the best and if you would like to discuss more please feel free to contact me.

motherofallmuddles Thu 21-Mar-13 09:34:31

Hi Simon
Thank you for coming to Mumsnet. I've been to your Edmonton Store and was really impressed by the changes, especially the Costa Coffee- good move.
My concern is that I understand you are closing down the high street stores in favour of the out of town retail parks. I get that this works when choosing a car seat however aren't you just another retailler deserting the british high street ?

AmberLav Thu 21-Mar-13 14:07:54

To follow-up on the deserting the High Street point, our local High Street branch is staffed by mums who have worked there for years, and are massively helpful, whereas our nearest "Large carpark" brand new version is entirely staffed by 20-year old girls who saunter around as it they have all the time in the world, and are pleasant but useless. If you are going to close the high street version, please move the great staff to the new big ones!

One good thing I've noticed recently is that most tills now seem to have (just) enough space for two buggies to pass each other, which was such a fundamental point to miss when most shoppers were there with buggies!

Hopefully the plans for the future include gift vouchers that can be used online, improvement to your computer systems so that ordering in store does not take hours, and sorting out your version of Collect in-store, as I had weeks of text messages telling me my item still needed to be collected, when it had been collected already.

I actually quite like the clothes, but I've only bought boys stuff, so can't comment on the girls clothes...

JeanBillie Thu 21-Mar-13 14:14:14

Hello,

I'd like to start with a positive: there is a wonderful wonderful member of staff at Mothercare Bedford, who was so kind to me when my daughter was only a few weeks old.

I managed to get my car seat stuck onto the chassis of our Mamas & Papas pushchair, and was stuck in the Mothercare carpark, unable to either detach the carseat or to fold down the buggy. She was SO kind in helping me to dismantle the stupid, badly designed carseat even though it wasn't a Mothercare item. Her kindness left me in tears!

I'd really like to know what your plans are. I have to admit, I find Mothercare stores look a bit tired, and there's never the right item in stock when I want it.

Thanks for coming onto MN to hear more about what we're looking for. smile

champagnesupernovum Thu 21-Mar-13 14:30:52

Hello
My local branch is a megastore in a retail park with clarks and ELC franchise.
hmm

Why is it not possible get to the shoes without having to run the gauntlet of walking through ALL the toys to get there. hmm?

I would also add that I have a fair few Mothercare bits (you are one of the few retailers who offer poppered vests up to age 3, so well done on that.)
It seems to me though that Mothercare as a whole is expensive when the quality is taken in a/c.

I really don't feel that the quality matches that of John Lewis/named brands.

Echoing the pink/blue nonsense that has been posted above

And some NICE stuff for boys as they get older
All the sludge brown and "here comes trouble" stuff makes me sad.
That is all

THANK YOU for coming on Mumsnet, PLEASE listen to the MNers - we know we are talking about. grin

Lollydaydream Thu 21-Mar-13 14:48:46

I can't get round our local store with a buggy easily and it is pretty small. The same with our ELC; with both there seem s no point in going into the store what I want will probably not be in there; if I want certainty I order online and then I can't pick a delivery date and time. Online us fine for me but grandparents etc will not use it so you are loosing sales.
Also your bras do not fit you are using and outdated measuring syst and do not make nursing bras in an appropriate range of sizes.

skhatun Thu 21-Mar-13 15:01:34

Sorry forgot to mention I've tried to order things off the Internet but had far to many problems trying to place an order that I gave up confused

SilverSnake Thu 21-Mar-13 15:30:07

Hi

I would like to see the following stocked ny mothercare:
Cloth nappies like ittibitty
Legwarmers
Moby wraps/woven wraps
Wider range of cot bed bedding for toddlers
Rear faceing car seats with expert fitters in shop
Organic fashion for baby and toddlers
New fashion range for 5-9 year olds

Is there any plans to introduce any of the above?

I live close to Parkgate retail world where the new kiddicare shop has open. There is a big Mothercare, mama and paps and now kiddicare all next to each other. How do you plan to make Mothercare stand out or offer parents something the other shops dont?

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans Thu 21-Mar-13 15:30:34

Hi Simon

Thanks for coming in.

I don't have a small child myself, but my SIL is pregnant and says the thing that would tempt her most is being able to actually try out a few travel systems, find out which ones are comfortable to push and which ones she really can fold one-handed. Is this something Mothercare offers, or that you'd consider offering?

gilly86 Thu 21-Mar-13 15:43:52

Hi Simon smile

Mothercare in Plymouth is in Drake Circus shopping centre. Its very small compared to other Mothercares I've been to.
My husband and I are trying to conceive so it doesnt apply to us YET but we even find the Plymouth store utterly dire.

My brother+his wife AND my sister+her husband (and other friends+family with little ones) don't even go there anymore.... And there are no other baby shops in Plymouth!

They have to drive to the larger mothercare in Torquay or even go further afield to Mamas+Papas in Bristol! I think Kiddicare are also opening a store in Bristol soon so that's appealing.

You have shut down many high street stores and opened bigger mothercares in out of town retail parks... It's a shame for the high street but Plymouth would welcome a new, bigger, retail park style mothercare with open arms!

Ahem May I suggest you open one in marsh mills, Plympton, in the old big comet store?! EVERYONE I know is saying the same thing "oh yes that would be the perfect place for a mothercare!!" Etc etc.. It's the talk of the town!

Worth a try i suppose!!!!!!!

Thanks! grin

chenrob Thu 21-Mar-13 15:52:12

Hi Simon

I ws jsut wondering, how mothercare plan to tackle customer queries quicker in the future? I have tried calling before, emailing and then finally resorted to social media, yet my 'issue' was not resolved.

It would be good to get a reply without having to sit on the phone for hours.

Thanks

SpringtimeForShatner Thu 21-Mar-13 16:04:52

My thoughts on Mothercare, based on recent experience:

1) Unpleasant to be in. The two small shops I went in were so overcrowded with displays it was difficult to get round with the pram, plus there was a real pong of dirty nappies coming from the changing room in both shops.
2) Poor value for money. The clothes (children's and maternity wear) in particular are so-so quality and style, but at high prices.
3) Too much reliance on orders from store because they don't stock what you went in for. If I wanted to order stuff without seeing it, I certainly wouldn't bother going into a high street shop selling at inflated prices and get the assistant to carry out an online order at snail's pace for me.
4) Please sell some cheerful clothes for boys. Not characters and slogans, not only brown, blue or grey. Look at John Lewis and H&M for some inspiration.
5) A positive experience was ordering something online (at home!) and picking it up in-store a couple of days later. It was convenient and worked.

I assume the shops I went in won't exist for much longer if they're getting rid of the high street branches though, so some of my comments are probably useless and won't apply to the big out of town stores. Seems a shame for a high street staple to disappear, and I know my MIL will be annoyed when her local branch goes; she can't drive and Mothercare is her go-to shop when she wants something for a baby. Isn't small town high street presence the only advantage Mothercare has over its competitors?

stargirl1701 Thu 21-Mar-13 16:13:17

Hi. I would like to see you move away from such a gender divide in your stock. There are so many colours - why stick predominantly to pink & blue? It would be great to have a retailer in the UK like Polarn O Pyret or Katvig. The ELC toys seem to have really moved into this gender divide and no longer seem to be about learning through play.

It would be fab if the babygrows continued to have fold over scratch mitts beyond 6 months. We use sleeping bags so DD's little hands often get very cold overnight. The 'Grosuits' sold for the sleeping bags that incorporate this are quite expensive.

More products to support Breastfeeding would be great too. I would love to see Medela, Breastworks, Yoomi, NUK, etc. products on sale. The bog standard Tommee Tippee and Avent are available everywhere - and usually cheaper elsewhere too.

Could you extend the cot range to include co-sleeper cots? For example, Arms Reach?

Moochicken Thu 21-Mar-13 16:37:44

I have found shopping in Mothercare a very frustrating experience over the past few years due to poor customer service and quite a narrow range of stock.

After having a second baby a few weeks ago, I went to Mothercare to stock up on a few essentials. The store itself was a bit grim looking but I actually noticed quite a few new Mothercare branded products that looked really good. In particular a highchair for 24.99 which I though could rival my Ikea antilop and was certainly better looking.

Mothcare could be so much more than an average (and in some cases below average) baby/children's shop. I love the idea further up the thread about running relevant sessions and having cafes in store.

FoofFighter Thu 21-Mar-13 16:53:28

Simon, are you opening any new stores in the Moray area? Such a hassle to go to Inverness or Aberdeen for baby things, or the vastly overpriced and understocked local independent pram shop hmm - you're missing a trick!

My first job was in Mothercare and made a pramnerd out of me grin

AmandinePoulain Thu 21-Mar-13 17:21:01

Hello, and thanks for coming to talk to us smile

I have generally been disappointed with my local branch (Swansea) but I went in at the weekend and I was pleasantly surprised. It seemed cleaner, and the upstairs area had reopened after being used as a dumping ground for years so the store felt more spacious. If it was your doing, thank you smile. I didn't venture into the toilets so don't know if they'd improved, the smell in the baby room used to be horrific. And the lady at customer services actually served me rather than directing me to the other till which is always the only one open with a huge queue.

I do find it hard to find what I want sometimes to be honest. I went in recently to buy a bath seat for my 7mo (ie. a sitting up one) and there weren't any. And I was in the Cardiff (St. David's) branch and looking for breast milk bags - I looked by infant feeding where I expected them to be but they were in maternity hmm.

I miss our separate ELC to be honest. They used to do craft activities on a Tuesday morning but that hasn't been carried on with sad, and for some inexplicable reason the front of the store is laid out with toys to play with but I think I've seen it open to children twice confused.

HRH008 Thu 21-Mar-13 17:51:31

Hi Simon,
I missed out on Mothercare as I live in Germany. Mothercare is sorely needed over here. I enquired about the possibility of opening a store here but was told that it wasn`t possible. Is it? I am still interested, and there is a HUGE market here.
Cheers
008

yousankmybattleship Thu 21-Mar-13 18:02:16

Hello. Sorry, I've not had time to read all the previous questions so apologies if I'm repeating any. Can I ask you about store layout? When my children were small I used two branches of Mothercare (one of which was one of the big out of town ones) and in both there was not enough room to get a buggy between the displays. The aisles were lovely and wide but it was impossible to browse anything else without leaving my buggy in an aisle and trying to dash in before my baby noticed and started wailing.

Hi, thanks for joining to answer questions.

I used to LOVE Mothercare. When my oldest son (now 10) was born I bought everything from Mothercare. It was a pleasure to shop, and with helpful and dedicated staff. I bought lots online, and lots in store. My favourite shops were Marble Arch, and in Kew Retail park.

3 Years later our youngest was born, and the changes began. Kew used to have baby change with free nappies and wipes. Bottle warmers in the "Carers area", and child friendly toilet. These facilities were the first to close. Soon, there was only a toilet left. Then the cafe closed. This was the Hub for new mums. I would come to shop, have lunch with my oldest and feed my baby. A busy store became a ghost town, with uninterested staff chewing gum and too busy to chat to bother with customers. Staff members behind the counter on a "go slow" and chatting while people are waiting to be served, in an empty store.

What happened?

Then you started this ridiculous discount policy online. 3 for the price of 2. Not across a section of similar items, like bath items. But, 3 baby baths! Who needs that? It works well if you need three outfits, or three packs of babywipes. It is just frustrating.

It looks to me that in the last 8 years Mothercare has made conscious decision to see how far you can go in providing a bad service and a bad shopping experience and still retain some customers.

lagoonhaze Thu 21-Mar-13 18:23:43

You need to promote extended rearfacing car seats in ALL your stores. Unless parents see it as normal the whole dangerous practice of turning your baby around at 9 months won't change.

Its great you are stocking besafe and maxi cosi mobi but you need to extend this.

Hi Simon,

I was in my local mothercare store today actually, leicester. I was really looking around critically after we pulled the stores and brand apart recently.

Firstly the store layout is really disjointed. Trying to offer all things parents need means that you only have a small selection of items really. Big name buggies i didnt see, bugaboo, uppababy, baby jogger etc i appreciate that you will want to press the mothercare brand. Car seats it would be nice to see more extended rearfacing options.

The till areas are appaling compared to most high street names, busy, messy, a million different impulse buy items in your face. Worst of all was sweets at the tills. Your store caters for the youngest of children; the kind that tantrum at will in shops over sweets!

On a positive note; the clothes were much more appealing to me with some lovely summery items for girls. The boys clothes were bright and vibrant. I noticed that there are far less "mummy's little monster" type slogans with lots of bold fun prints. The pricing was also good value with lots if multibuy offers. I also shopped online with you for some daisylane bedding as it was very good value on offer.

I really do think your store has a place on the highstreet, its just trying to be all things to all people. Mothercare toys alongside elc for example is just plain confusing!

Every single member of your staff greeted me in store and i was asked if i needed help etc. it was actually an enjoyable shopping experience. Thank you.

TeamEdward Thu 21-Mar-13 18:44:38

To be honest, I haven't stepped foot in a Mothercare for about 3 years.
I bought a lot of Mothercare stuff when pg with DS1 (now 7) and we bought a lot of clothes and equipment too. By the time DS2 was born 3 years later, things had waned. Now both local towns have lost their stores, in favour of an out of town outlet. I've never been in it, because I doubt I'd find anything worth buying (based on previous experience).

Firstly, customer service was poop. I really think Mothercare needs staff prepared to care for Mothers (and Fathers too!). I disliked being scowled at for allowing my toddler to shake boxes look at toys. I didn't like being shrugged at by young staffmembers who quite obviously had never been up for 20 hours on the trot with a colicy baby.

Your maternity clothes were strange, with extremely long legs and arms. Not all women are 5'11...

Often items weren't available. I wanted to buy a selection of matching items from a particular range, but something was always out of stock. I want my nappy bucket to match the baby bath. AIBU?

The toilets and feeding room were a life-saver on many occasions, but really needed to be cleaned more regularly.

chickensaladagain Thu 21-Mar-13 19:03:47

I ventured into the Huddersfield store the other day to buy a gift for my friend's new baby

There were empty arms with babygrows hung on by the arm in a clumsy attempt at health and safety I presume but it didn't look good

There was only 1 member of staff to be seen and she was on the till -very friendly and chatty but flying solo

I was unimpressed by the selection and ended up buying from next which was cheaper and better quality

My dcs are now 9&11 but I bought most things for them from mothercare in Leeds crown point but the quality at the time was so much better

KelleStar Thu 21-Mar-13 19:07:04

I am currently pregnant with DC2 and hauled DD with me to your Longwell Green branch, which is tiny compared to the one at Emersons Green, but it's my nearest. I had a good wander about, as really in our area, there isn't a great selection of baby stuff in one spot to look at.

The two things that were a disappointment to me...

Not having stock of plus size maternity wear to try on [16/18/20] were only available in some items that aren't really flattering on the larger lady. I don't like slogans. I also tried on a Nursing top that was fine at the front, but was short, I would really appreciate a bit of length to cover my belly.

Maternity Bra's, OK I can walk into Debenhams and pick up my pre-pregnancy size of 36HH, but I can't walk into any store and pick up a nursing bra in my size that is flattering. Last pregnancy I went up two cup sizes to a 34K and could not find a bra anywhere [squished into a J cup, which actually felt more like a G cup] to cope with my cup size without giving me no support and unaboob, it really made me feel frumpy and unattractive, I breastfed until DD was 15 months and I couldn't believe how much slimmer I looked when I went back to normal bra's, this shouldn't be. I'd love to see Mothercare be the first to start stocking more flattering nursing bras for the large of nork.

DyeInTheEar Thu 21-Mar-13 19:16:04

I like being pleasantly surprised by the stock at my local Mothercare (Holloway Road). I think you can find nice stuff - especially for girls - which is quite Boden / White company style tops. Though I've also walked out shaking my head at some of the stereotypical stuff for girls / boys.

The store itself though is shabby and in desperate need of a refit and it's a small store so when there is a queue with just 3 buggies it is a bit of jostle to get round the store. This shop could be a goldmine location.

I never seem to get the sizes I need - ever - for either of my DCs.

Jules Oliver's range isn't stocked though and always sold out online. Is this a ploy? I wondered if all the promotion and PR surrounding this range was to get us in store and not enough ever produced and impossible to get hold of?

Customer service is a bit hit and miss. Friendly enough but mostly a bit non plussed and at times grumbly.

Well done on coming to MN. Should be the cheapest and easiest bit of market research ever. wink

AmandinePoulain Thu 21-Mar-13 19:40:21

Yes please to stocking ERF seats - there's no where anywhere near me that sells them or fits them; and decent slings rather than just the babybjorn style ones; and cloth nappies. And babygros with mitts past 6 months. We don't ask for much do we? grin

lagoonhaze Thu 21-Mar-13 19:51:39

Oh and Ive just looked online

I like these shorts

www.mothercare.com/Little-Bird-by-Jools-Floral-Woven-Shorts/558947,default,pd.html

But I would also like the top. Please link your items or say if not available why ie out of stock- being released when etc. Its very frustrating

gazzalw Thu 21-Mar-13 20:30:27

You have a brand name known to all and Mothercare could really become the destination for all parents, particularly first time ones. But you really need to make it more than a shop. It needs to be a desirable destination which provides a holistic approach to parenting!

Boggler Thu 21-Mar-13 20:30:55

Hi Simon, hope you're not reeling from all the suggestions, and observations I have a few issues with Mothercare :-

1. My local Mothercare (newport) was closed in the summer of 2012 gutting for both the high street and parents it had been there for over 40 years and if you'd had the presence of mind to update the shop and ditch some of the bigger items it could have been very profitable. Ironically if it was still there you'd be doing a roaring trade as there is no where else to buy baby/children's clothes.

2. My nearest Mothercare is now (Cwmbran) which is ok but fgs it is on 2 floors and it doesn't have a lift!! Hello we are mums mostly with buggies or prams how are we supposed to get upstairs to see what you have for sale? It's not rocket science if your customers cannot get upstairs they aren't going to np buy anything. Ironically the closed newport store had a great lift.

3. The clothes for babies and children are definitely overpriced you can get better quality for less at m&s, Next and John Lewis. That said I don't want bargain basement George or matalan stuff. I'm prepared to pay but only if it feels worth it. I like Joules, Boden and Monsoon stuff and so do most of my friends, people will pay for good quality clothing that lasts.

4. Baby tops and t-shirts should be tested to see if they are easy to get on and off, I've had too many that are near impossible to get on a baby. Try and have stretchy fabric (boots do is) or tops that button all the way down the back etc.

5. Get some cute designs, pretty for girls not just pink, no slogans ever, no peppa pig or Thomas, colourful stuff for boys and girls.

6. Pushchairs & prams when we bought our cameleon we disregarded Mothercare completely as you don't do any attractive offers. We bought from a shop that gave a free car seat and adapters.

7. Elc toys need updating, you're still selling exactly the same things as you did 10 years ago. Why would I want to buy more of what we already have or didn't want 10 years ago.

8. Why can't I use my gift vouchers online? This is archaic I don't know of any other retailer that won't let you use vouchers online.

9. Why aren't my emails ever answered? I've sent several from the website and I've never had a reply - ever.

10. I'd like to see more brands on sale rather than just Mothercare stuff.

Overall I'd hate to see Mothercare fold, for all its faults it's a stalwart of British life, however you have to come up with a usp that will encourage the public to visit your stores.

EauRouge Thu 21-Mar-13 20:38:57

Hi Simon, thanks for coming to talk to us and listen to our ideas.

A lot of the things I wanted to say have been said- please, please make extended rear-facing seats more available and let parents know about the safety aspect.

Also the pink/blue stuff; I really think Mothercare could lead the way in moving away from all that nonsense. We've all had enough and the tacky pink/blue stuff can be bought in a supermarket for half the price of Mothercare. How about some really good quality clothing that is more gender neutral so can be passed down from sibling to sibling? Like the denim dungarees you sell, they look ace (must pick some up for 4yo DD1)- stuff like that, practical and hard-wearing rather than mini-adult stuff.

And yes yes yes to decent slings! Baby Bjorns and the like are crap. How about having a sling event where mothers can try out a few different ones (ergos, wraps, ring slings etc) before they buy? More people would use them if they knew that comfortable ones were available, not like those back-destroying Baby Bjorns.

Could you be more breastfeeding friendly? Maybe give out flyers for local breastfeeding groups etc? I did see a breastfeeding stand in a branch of Mothercare once run by a local group, more of that sort of thing would be brilliant.

I have to say the customer service in my local branch is excellent and I would shop there more if I could find more that I liked.

AnneEyhtMeyer Thu 21-Mar-13 20:39:44

I have two Mothercare stores near me - a high street one and an out of town one. Both have their issues.

The high street store has a lot of things upstairs, but no lift. When DD was still in her pushchair this meant that I just didn't bother, as the only advice was to leave her downstairs. hmm

The out of town one has loads of items piled on the floor, making it difficult to get round and it looks scruffy. It reminds me of Woolworths before it closed.

The ELC toys are depressingly pink v blue. I went to get the Build IT Construction Starter Set, found it, took it to the till. The assistant engaged me in conversation about how good it was, and I told her I was sure DD would love it. As soon as she realised I was buying for a girl she was insistent that I needed the pink version. I told her it wasn't compulsory.

But forget all of the above, the thing I really want to say is this: I find the Baby K clothing range and the Myleene Klass branding very off-putting. Over-priced clothes and questionable styling for children. The tie-in with Myleene actually puts me off buying anything at all in Mothercare, it really seems to pull the shop downmarket.

bringonthesummer Thu 21-Mar-13 21:14:41

How are you going to improve customer service in your stores ? I have experienced very rude staff in mothercare stores on several occasions including once in front of my Dd . Mothercare are in very competitive market and in mho good customer service can be make or break these days . I used to buy my daughter clothes in mothercare but she is past mothercare now and I do not like the boys clothes (Ds is 2 ) As others have said , look at John lewis , h&m and marks and spencer. Also not sure why but everything on mothercare website is always sold out ?!?

StrawberryMojito Thu 21-Mar-13 21:19:04

I'm a regular Mothercare customer as I have a large store within walking distance of my house.

My suggestions:
Get rid of the Baby K range- overpriced and not very nice.
The £2.50 tops are great for nursery goers.
Could you standardise your sizing. I bought DS 2 12-18 month tops, one was big, the other was small.
Lay more toys out in the ELC area. More parents will bring their toddlers in to kill 20 mins and inevitably end up buying something. If they are like me.
Make your book section more affordable. Currently, if I think DS likes a book he has seen at Mothercare, I order it from Amazon. Maybe some buy one get one half price type offers.
The maternity section and newborn section are too expensive. Compete with the supermarkets.

On the whole I like Mothercare and all the staff I have encountered have been great.

RaisingGirls Thu 21-Mar-13 21:24:52

You are brave, nest of vipers round here, didn't you know? wink

I have a few comments:

Please, please, please get your staff properly trained to fit maternity/nursing bras. The number of women who come to me (nct bra fitter) with a poorly fitted bra by mothercare, risking their health as well as their comfort, is shocking and disappointing. There should be someone available in the store to fit bras all the time, and they should know what they are doing. Ill fitting nursing bras can cause mastitis, it's not ok to just have a best guess at what fits (and then not have that size in stock anyway) hmm

I am really disappointed with the pink/blue thing with clothes and toys. It's been said before by other posters, I know.

Please also train your staff on Extended Rear Face car seats, and then please also stock some in stores! A friend was told this week by a member of staff in one of your stores that "mothercare do not stock ERF seats because it is illegal to keep your baby rear facing after 1 year". Luckily my friend knows differently, but this kind of wrong information seems typical of the poor training of mothercare staff, sadly.

DD1 is 4 and she knows the mothercare brand, even though she can't read - this is a good thing as far as brand recognition goes for your company, I hope it stays in business. By listening to your potential customers through forums such as this, you are definitely heading the right way. smile

LovesBeingWokenEveryNight Thu 21-Mar-13 21:26:35

Hello simon

I seem to recall a similar interaction previously and am unaware of any actions taken so hope this is useful.

My question is very simple, why can't I walk around mothercare pushing my pram? The layout is just not suitable to push a push chair around (do surely not for a wheelchair either).

mamacoffee Thu 21-Mar-13 21:27:06

toddler toilets would be a great help, how come not all mothercare stores have them?

also how do you ensure you have helpful staff in all your branches? the branch i used to go to (chelmsford if you're interested) had really unhelpful staff, none of them seemed to care. in contrast the one in edmonton and westfield stratford has the most helpful staff ever!!

PuddingsAndPies Thu 21-Mar-13 21:29:28

I worked part-time at Mothercare about 8 years ago. Because of my experiences as a member of staff, I refuse to shop there now I am a mother.

There were so many things wrong with the experience - we were chronically understaffed, to the point that we, as a group of teenagers, were hauling heavy boxes around the stockroom, off very high shelves, for no extra money. It was freely admitted that that was because stockroom staff were an unnecessary expense.

I was expected to give bra fittings to pregnant and breastfeeding women. With absolutely no training. We were given a reference card with measurements and their bra size conversion. That was all. If those women, at such a vulnerable time, had had any idea that they probably had more knowledge of their bra size than we, the staff did, they would have almost certainly decided to take their custom elsewhere.

There was so much pressure to get people to sign up for store cards (which I don't morally agree with pushing on people anyway). We were told that the person who got the fewest sign ups would have to clean the staff toilets as a 'forfeit'. As a part-timer, I was automatically at a disadvantage. I quit at the point that I was expected to take on the role as cleaner in addition to everything else.

I don't really have a question. I just want to tell you how bad things were even less than a decade ago, & hope that things have improved now. Adequate staffing and training should definitely be a priority.

MrsMarigold Thu 21-Mar-13 21:32:31

I live in North London and am really disappointed with Mothercare, - I just don't feel it provides value. I'm not a fan of the clothes either - I like bold primary colours and plain stripes, plain colours or spots without cartoon characters or twee bears. That said, I bought some bodysuits from Mothercare for my son aged 22 months a while back (plain bright clear colours) they are great - but there were no long sleeved ones and what's the deal with all the white. It gets so grubby - I think you could really differentiate yourself by going for logo free bright, clear coloured clothes. Simplicity rather than fussy detailing . Also it is expensive compared to M&S and even John Lewis.

Also please could you put on suitable music I remember being in there and hearing something really loud and more appropriate to a nightclub than a shop where you bring children. It would be great to have some nursery songs or stories like the Gruffalo audiobooks or even just classical music.

Also the stores seem to close early - why?

LaVitaBellissima Thu 21-Mar-13 21:34:13

Hi Simon,

I have only used mothercare twice in the last 2 years, as I always found our local John Lewis (Kingston) had a much better range, and was a lot cleaner. I have spent an absolute fortune in there.
Most new mums are very paranoid about dirt, germs & sterilising everything, all the potties, baths etc in your Bentals Kingston branch were filthy and the maternity wear was unflattering and badly fitting. I walked straight out. I have to say the Kew branch is better with the nursing area, and the staff in Hounslow were really helpful.

I ended up buying my maternity wear in a Blooming marvellous closing down sale, they were a great brand which ironically Mothercare bought out. Are you still selling it under that name?

Have to say you should be sending Gazzalw & jbakedbean a nice gift for their brilliant advice!

tumblebug Thu 21-Mar-13 22:01:24

Hi, I shop at Mothercare quite a bit and really like a lot of your products - some of the clothes, ELC, some cuddly toys that I saw recently.

The baby change/ feeding facilities and toilets are great. Last week there were nappies and wipes in there - really useful.

Some things really frustrate me though, and put me off shopping there.

At my previous local store (a bigger store) it often felt like there were a lot of staff standing around doing not very much, but trying to get someone to help was really difficult - I would often wander round the buggy or car seat section, not be able to find anyone to help or advise, and walk out again. Very helpful staff at my new local store though.

Price labelling can be poor - still rely on sticky price labels, I often can't find a price on an item or on the shelf.

I took an item to pay (at full price), and found out there was a substantial price reduction - I very nearly didn't buy it as I felt it was too expensive, but was very happy at the price I paid in the end. Surely if price is reduced to encourage sales, this should be clearly marked/ advertised?

Buckette Thu 21-Mar-13 22:04:33

Hi, in general I enjoy shopping at the 2 larger stores local to me, although I was not inpressed in the main by the maternity clothes when I was expecting last year, and echo the above comments on the Baby K range. One further gripe: I bought some socks like these when my little one was very little and I didn't know any better. It turns out that socks like these just don't stay on baby's feet (I assume it's not just my baby that couldn't keep them on? ). This may seem like a very little thing but as a store that specialises in baby products I would expect Mothercare to sell things that actually do their job as it were. The socks I've purchased from Morissons and Aldi of all places were much better...

cooper44 Thu 21-Mar-13 22:09:31

Hi Simon - I have a gazillon ideas of how Mothercare could improve but here's my most recent one after a trip to Kingston last week. I was actually going to write to you so it's a stroke of luck you are here.

I find it absolutely amazing in the country's leading baby high street retailer why a baby feed/change room would have an overflowing bin of nappies and a feeding bench right next to it. We decided not to feed in Mothercare that day and went and sat in the car in a dark and dingy car park instead. Still it was preferable to a smelly baby room.

In a vast store I don't understand why there can't be space for a small feeding area and then a separate baby change. Surely this has to be possible?!
Then I might just come and buy some baby-gros for my five month old.

Just thought I'd mention, the staff in the Sheffield city centre branch, and out at Crystal Peaks have been lovely when we've been in. They looked like they needed a little cheering up at Meadowhall though (though I suspect that was just be because of the soulless corner of the building they're stuck in). It didn't inspire me to linger.

Nothing else springs to mind, I've not been in for a while - apart from wellies, you always seem to have every pattern, make and model but only in Size 4.

And can you please sell swimming trunks/suits in the winter, at least in the little sizes where they're still growing so fast, for trips to the local swimming baths.

namechanger4097 Thu 21-Mar-13 22:14:32

Hi there

I took my 2 year old to your store on the Old Kent Road last Saturday. We went to buy some knickers as she's potty training. She needed the loo when we were in there and were abruptly told there wasn't a customer toilet and we should go across the (very busy dual carriageway) road to Toys R Us. Isn't it policy to have a children's toilet in stores - especially larger, newer ones like this?

Also, the knickers for sale are almost all pink, with princesses and peppa pig on. Not everyone wants to dress their girls in head to toe pink and boys in blue and the styles are dated.

Thanks.

Oh, and you know at Halfords how they'll help you fit your new car seat so it's safe and properly in - that's very helpful, maybe you could do that too?

owlface Thu 21-Mar-13 22:18:20

I don't have a question but wanted to say I'm in my 30s and actually remember looking through Mothercare catalogues as a child, so now I'm pregnant it was the first place I went. However although I have made several visits to look at maternity clothes, cots, nappies, buggies and baby clothes, I haven't bought a single thing from Mothercare. Certainly part of this is down to customer service as compared to other stores eg Kiddicare, Babies R Us, I have felt ignored in Mothercare. I know sometimes shoppers do not like to be approached and prefer to be left to browse but for an overwhelmed and clueless first time mother it would be nice to be acknowledged, pointed in the right direction and given advice. Once I did not realise the store was about to close until they turned the lights off and closed the shutters! It would have been better to ask the few remaining shoppers if we needed any help finding something as the store would be closing in ten minutes.

I agree with the pink and blue toy comments. I was disappointed not to find anything I liked for my two year old niece's birthday present recently as everything seemed far too gender stereotyped.

sleepyhead Thu 21-Mar-13 22:55:22

The move to out of town doesn't work for me.

7 years ago, when pg with ds1, we bought most of our starter kit from Mothercare. It was a known brand to me (who had no experience of babies up to that point) so it seemed like the place to go, and felt like a bit of a milestone, buying cot sheets, first teddy, first outfit etc.

This time round, pg with ds2, we don't need the big items, but apart from a (badly ill-fitting - no changing rooms!) pair of maternity jeans and one outfit, most stuff has come from Tesco or John Lewis. Tesco, because I'm there every week, John Lewis because it's on the high street so I can impulse buy. I'm just a lot less likely to make a special trip to a retail park.

Oh yes, I agree about the state of the toilets (although I think the one I visited recently doesn't have customer toilets any more) - I do remember them being really dirty.

ShrewveTuesday Thu 21-Mar-13 23:17:20

OK - first up, I spent nearly £400 in Mothercare (including pram) preparing for DD's arrival. And I've had some excellent quality items from the store (still trying to squeeze DD into the Best Winter Coat Ever).

However:

The pink-and-blue stuff makes the brand look cheap (Asda, Sainsbury's, M&S all do the pink and blue thing - it just screams "supermarket").

The stores always seem to look like a jumble sale - including the Oxford St one where I bought the pram. The stock-keeping is rubbish - nothing in the right size. I've often thought I'm looking at a sale rail - but no - that's the new season stock! I don't actually need more cute baby things - what I want is the shopping experience - lovely pristine little items in gorgeous colours, beautifully laid out - and then I might buy something.

As others have said, your brand recognition is second to none - do something with it! You are losing custom (or failing to gain it) all the time. I've made several trips into Mothercare over the last two years but have bought nothing because I couldn't find what I wanted (or the store was horrible).

The Baby K stuff is nasty, trashy tat.

ELC used to be wonderful - but is now (largely) overpriced, gender-stereotyped plastic tat.

Maternity wear is awful - M'care was my first port of call but I couldn't find anything that didn't make me look like a hooker, so I bought at Gap instead.

Slogans on T-shirts etc - also not a good look. I am not a fan of licensed characters either, though I realize they have their place.

I think you use the same photographer as M&S for your website photos, don't you? The one who used to be a police duty photographer.

Don't compromise on the quality of your best quality items (I've had a fab snowsuit and coat as gifts - I never see these things instore) but try to make the quality more consistent across the brand.

As PP have said, stores can be surprisingly filthy (not all).

YY to loud inappropriate music. Something baby-friendly please.

Since I've got you here - your changing mats do not last for the nappied-life of one baby! Mine self-destructed after 15 months, and a friend's did even earlier. Heard this complaint numerous times. Just make them properly, dammit.

Customer service needs work - I've heard stupid stories about Mothercare vouchers not being accepted in ELC stores (or even for ELC purchases within the same store hmm). This is plainly ridiculous and gives you a bad name.

My ideal of the Mothercare brand is something akin to John Lewis - the reality usually falls short, mostly on customer service and shopping experience.

Finally, I hope you weren't responsible for the customer service ethos of LoveFilm - what a crock of shit that was.

superoz Thu 21-Mar-13 23:19:24

As the mother of a now 5 year old I remember frequenting Mothercare a lot during pregnancy and in the first year but this started to tail off.
The last time I was in a store was a year ago buying for a friend. What struck me was that there were some items still age appropriate for my 5 year old but the marketing just wasn't there. The layout of stores needs to be reviewed and the clothing in particular - why do I feel you do not cater for children beyond 2 years old?
Also the ELC concessions seem to have very limited stock and on occasion I have had to go elsewhere because of this.

FairPhyllis Thu 21-Mar-13 23:50:35

I went to Mothercare in Sunderland at Christmas to buy a present for a new baby. I wasn't very excited by the selection or the prices and ended up buying some plastic stacking cups from M&S, who I hadn't previously realised did some baby things.

I don't have children yet, but I plan to, and Mothercare would have been my first port of call because I remember it and the ELC from my own childhood (I'm in my 30s). But now I will probably end up shopping around - I know now that in Sunderland alone M&S, Next and Boots do baby stuff - even though a one-stop-baby-shop would probably be more convenient.

Oh yes and the ELC in Sunderland is full of nasty tat and is miles from Mothercare.

KathrynsMum Thu 21-Mar-13 23:51:13

I could add to discussions of the range of lines stocked in baby-carriers (slings) and rear-facing seats, but I'll stick to just one area - I'll add in another plea that Mothercare TRAIN staff in fitting feeding bras correctly.
If you don't want to do that then I do think you have a responsibility (as a well-known & trusted brand for first-time parents) to state very clearly that you don't do it well and warn visiting Mothers-to-be that they need to ensure a good fit to safeguard their health.

Could you signpost to well-trained fitters in the local area, or get an expert to design an informational poster which clearly describes what Mums can look out for for themselves? That would be better than giving mothers the impression that staff are measuring correctly?

My work means I attend many local breastfeeding support groups - when we meet women with persistent blocked ducts / mastitis then one of the first things we talk about is how well her feeding bra is fitted. Mothercare is a consistent culprit, I'm sorry to say. Other mothers in the group share their experiences and recommend online sources, or a local Debenhams store.
We have heard tales of woe from Mums who've purchased a few packs marked with the same size only to discover a very wide range of fitting.

And talking of breastfeeding support - if you are going to print information leaflets then PLEASE get it written/checked out by an IBCLC (a list is here - www.lcgb.org).
Well done for coming on Mumsnet to gather opinions from your ex-customers (but it sounds like you could just check yr inbox now & then??!!)

MoetEtPantsOn Fri 22-Mar-13 00:54:27

I am in Australia where Mothercare has just gone into administration, which is very sad. For me some of the comments on here do not resonate- the staff here are unfailingly delightful and helpful. I think that the prices were the downfall over here- the clothes compared poorly to many other more well known, local brands.

At the moment, all stock is being sold off, but even with the discounts it is still expensive by comparison - particularly the ELC branded items.

Are you able to comment on the future here? Is the out of town approach one that will be taken here?

Thank you

hufflepup Fri 22-Mar-13 03:19:24

Hi Simon,

I'm an army wife and we were recently posted abroad. I was pregnant and ordered a lot of maternity things from Mothercare.

British armed forces serving overseas have their post delivered from the UK by the military postal service. We are given a BFPO (British Forces Posted Overseas) address and the normal postal service delivers post to a special UK sorting office where the military system takes over for free.

Why why why, when all Mothercare have to do is get my post to a UK address like any other, does it cost so much extra to have things delivered to BFPO addresses? It makes us very cross over here & could be seen as discriminatory against the armed forces. (Which isn't very nice of you really after we gave you the military wives choir and all that) please explain.

Thank you!

sleepywombat Fri 22-Mar-13 03:41:18

Hi Simon,

I am an expat living in Australia, so unlike the other posters, find UK Mothercare very good value (here we have little choice & everything is ridiculously priced).

When I first moved here 4 years ago, I was able to order online from you & have it delivered to me.

Then you decided to open shops in Australia (the nearest one was only a 24 hour drive/3 hour flight from me, so obviously I didn't go), hoiked up the prices, limited a lot of the ranges & stopped delivering from the UK.

Now that your Aus shops have gone into administration, will you consider delivering here again?

PurplePidjin Fri 22-Mar-13 05:48:21

Hi Simon, this is an excellent place to do your research and I hope you manage to implement at least some of these suggestions.

There is some evidence to suggest that the type of baby carrier most commonly promoted by your store (and other big names) can contribute to hip dysplasia in very young babies. What are your thoughts on this? Is there a possibility that you could promote more natural ways to support a carried baby, either by stocking more ergonomic styles of soft structured carrier or promoting wrap types?

Also, there used to be an excellent product called the Mothercare Smart Nappy. There is a roaring trade in these on sites like ebay, yet Mothercare discontinued the line. Living in a society trying to reduce waste, what are your reasons for withdrawing support from the reusable nappy market?

Thank you smile

Saundy Fri 22-Mar-13 06:40:06

Hi I'm pregnant with my first & it's a bit early to be buying anything yet but I'll give you my thoughts on Mothercare. Although I know nothing about these things it still feels like a quality brand & name you can trust, so in principle shopping there does appeal/feel slightly like a right of passage.

But then it all goes a bit wrong when you get to the local store, which is perfectly fine, with lovely staff - who all look like mothers & aren't intimidating/annoying like a group of say students would be. Everything just looks bland, lots of safe choices that don't excite me.

I'm another that HATES the blue pink divide (as do my friends) & you seem to offer very little else.

I like colour & interesting design & you don't get much of either in your stores.

On another note when a colleague recently went on maternity leave & we did a collection I (apparently naively) suggested MC vouchers, which got a firm no from everyone with children as "it's far too expensive & the money will go further elsewhere." I do get the distinct impression that I would be seen as wasteful if I shopped there - something worth considering in the current climate. I can see why as you don't get anything that exciting for your money.

DorcasDelIcatessen Fri 22-Mar-13 08:36:18

When I was pregnant with my first in 2003 I went pram shopping at my local Mothercare (Ancoats) and received excellent service. The lady concerned was very thorough and spent nearly an hour helping me to select the right pram. She even bagged up all my purchases and helped me to the car. I didn't get her name but she was a lovely middle aged lady with blonde hair and the biggest smile.
When I was pregnant with my third in 2008 the differences were stark. That lady was long gone. There were two girls stood at the checkout bickering. I saw one girl ( I say girls, they were no older than 17, 18...) near the prams and when I asked her to get me a bouncer chair she said she was too busy to help me and stormed off. I asked one of the girls on the checkout and she got me one after doing the biggest grunt and storming off without a word. The store was filthy and the big tubs of Sudocrem were covered in a black film of dust. A lot of the tights were covered in dirt (no doubt after being dropped on the floor or left lying around by customers.) and though there were hundreds of pairs of 6 - 12 month ones any smaller or bigger sizes were as rare as hens teeth.

I would say as a former shop worker myself please don't follow the advice of a previous poster and play nursery rhymes or childrens songs into the store. Hearing the same music over and over during a 12 hour shift is mind numbing and tedious. Its not fair to the staff. Thanks for reading and try to let us know what your plans are going to be. Good luck.

Wincher Fri 22-Mar-13 08:54:35

My nearest branch is the Edmonton one and I am VERY impressed with it since its revamp - it's now somewhere I take my son as a destination as he loves the play areas, and of course I normally buy something while I'm there. Definitely a model to be copied elsewhere - the store is clean, spacious, stocks a good range of products, including the Clarks and ELC sections, has several play areas, plus a Costa Coffee.

However I would add my voice to the pleas for less gender division in the toys. I hate the way there is a pink version of everything. There's just no need!

Mckenngp1 Fri 22-Mar-13 09:30:12

Hi I would like to ask why you have stopped selling school uniform and if you have plans to reintroduce? I was so disappointed not to be able to buy school uniform from mothercare as it was quite simply the best in my opinion.

DyeInTheEar Fri 22-Mar-13 09:36:22

Jules Oliver's range isn't stocked though and always sold out online. Is this a ploy? I wondered if all the promotion and PR surrounding this range was to get us in store and not enough ever produced and impossible to get hold of?

Though I think it's a brilliant range - lovely clothes - and I've done click and collect and very happy with online to store service.

Hi,

It's great that a company is willing to brave come onto MN particularly as your company seems to be one of the least popular at the minute!

Again, my customer service experience at Mothercare has been awful. I wanted to talk to staff about buggies when I was pregnant and tried 2 stores, both had poorly trained and, quite frankly, rude staff. We did find one very pleasant lady who had only worked there for a couple of weeks (so hadn't had a chance to pick up the 'we don't care' attitude?!)

On several occasions I've tried to buy items from stores (I'm a childminder and like the paints and craft items) only to leave a full basket at the tills because staff are too busy having a chat to serve customers.

Also, agree on the gender segregation of toys, the children I mind (and my daughter) enjoy playing with small world toys. The Happyland range is fantastic but the wooden toys (particularly Rosebud Village) are so sickly pink I refuse to buy them.

Sorry, it's a bit long!

milktraylady Fri 22-Mar-13 09:49:43

Please less of pink for girls blue for boys rubbish.

Why don't you have seats in your shops? Surely lots of pregnant people are your customers. Kiddicare has seats, so I shop there.

Good luck against kiddicare, a much better shopping experience & prices lower there!

milktraylady Fri 22-Mar-13 09:54:09

Please read the bra intervention threads on mumsnet- I can't buy any of your nursing bras as I am already (at 37 weeks) outside your stock range. We need smaller back sizes & larger cup sizes! Thanks.

Also if staff are not really doing anything & there is a queue at the till & pregnant people in the queue- it would be good customer service to open more tills so we don't have to stand (in agony). Never happens in mothercare hmm

happyfrogger Fri 22-Mar-13 09:58:45

Hi Simon,

My local Mothercare (Wimbledon) closed down so I shop online. Unfortunately the 3 times I have done this I have had problems, including:

1) Items arriving in 3 separate packages on 3 different days from the same order
2) Twice, packages not showing up on the day I took off work and waited in

I accept problems happen very occasionally but 3 out of 3 is not good and has put me offer returning as a customer, which is a shame as I like your products. On calling customer services I was advised that this 'happens quite a lot' and that 'we suspect sometimes our drivers just nick stuff - they're not as good as they used to be' - I was so taken aback I didn't know what to say!!

Do you have plans to reconsider your delivery company?

NoRoomForMeInMyBed Fri 22-Mar-13 10:00:07

I have used the Mothercare website twice, borh times my order has been wrong due to stock being available online but not in real life, this must be an easy issue to address?!?

Every mothercare shop I have ever visited (slough guildford reading and the now defunkt windsor shop has the same problems, dirty floors, stock all over the floor and no staff to pick it up, cashiers have no clue how to operate tills (slough store had 4 staff trying to do a simple return) and generally shabby allround. The shops just come across as very badly run.

On a good point I am very pleased to see you stocking ERF car seats, please make this a priority, let mothercare be the leading chain to educate and bring ERF to the masses! Its a shocking state of affairs that parents arent informed and have a good choice of ERF seats available.

FrillyMilly Fri 22-Mar-13 10:28:44

I live quite close to a large mothercare but rarely venture in. The problem I have is there seems to be no real brand identity. The clothes for example - the baby k range is awful trashy mini me clothes and the jools Oliver is more like Jojo maman bebe, the rest of the clothes range from classic style to character to similar to what is available in the supermarket. Pick a concept please.

The toys seriously needs a rebrand. Before I had children (4 and 1) the ELC was different to other toy shops. More educational toys, less plastic and great craft/messy play. As soon as mothercare took over all that went out the window and last time I went in it's blue for boys and pink for girls. Why does my daughter need a pink car garage? I would prefer it to be bright, colourful unisex toys especially since I have a daughter and a son. If this is something you have already done/doing you need to make it very clear as I am unaware of it.

PeachyApricot Fri 22-Mar-13 10:42:22

Would second everything that's already been said about Baby K; and the quality of your baby vests/baby gros has gone down considerably in the 4 years between buying them for DC1 and DC2 - much thinner material...

Toilets in the stores that I have frequented have never been clean, whatever time of day and usually have something missing (toilet roll, toilet seat on a couple of occasions...) and why don't you have the doors opening out wards on the cubicles like they do in Kiddicare?

When I was pregnant with DC 1 I bought maternity clothes and bras from you as I didn't know any better and relied on your brand reputation. For DC 2 I knew better and bought elsewhere, mainly Next/ H&M for clothes and M&S for bras, who's fitting service was much better.

What I need from your store is good quality, reasonably priced clothes for babies and young children - less of the motifs (though they do have their place) and a range colours, not just pink and peach for girls/ blue and sludge green for boys.

And finally, your till points are a mess - a load of out of season tat on and around the counter and members of staff who seem incapable of processing a refund half the time. And I don't want to keep getting vouchers offering me the chance to win £250 if I go online and fill in a questionnaire about their store.

Sorry for the grumbles, I applaud you for coming to talk to us - Ill applaud you even more if things actually happen as a result!

NigelMolesworth Fri 22-Mar-13 10:55:57

Thank you for coming in Simon!

I hope that, although a lot of these comments seem negative, you'll realise that there is a huge swell of affection for the Mothercare brand. We all want it to be successful, and want it to be a place we want to shop in, hence the huge amount of comments...

Although I haven't needed to shop there for a while now as my DDs are getting older, but here are my comments:

1. Completely agree with the blue/pink colour point that everyone else is raising. It makes me cross to the point that I currently won't shop in ELC...

2. My memory of Mothercare maternity clothes is that they were shapeless and uninteresting. But particularly, maternity clothes don't follow the same principle as standard high street fashion. If I went shopping for standard (ie non maternity) clothes today, I would expect to find clothes for the next season ie Spring/early summer clothes which would be OK to be worn in the next few weeks/months. When you go into Mothercare to buy a pair of maternity jeans, you want to wear them now (because your other clothes don't fit). You don't want to be faced with racks of summer linen cropped trousers which might be suitable for the weather in a couple of months time. So stop putting summer maternity clothes in the shops in April!

3. Cleanliness is a real issue. I don't want to have to take a toddler to an in-store toilet, only to have to hiss 'Don't touch ANYTHING!'

4. You need to come up with a clever way to make the smaller stores easy to negotiate with a pushchair.

Good luck!

NoRoomForMeInMyBed Fri 22-Mar-13 10:57:22

Maternity clothes, ok, all we need is good quality jersey items in plain colours no slogans no patterns, just plain comfortable matching pieces, leggings longline tops cardigans and wrapdresses, good enough for work yet comfy for everyday. If you had done a maternity capsule wardrobe like that I would have bought it all. Yet I have never bought anything from the mothercare maternity range as it is just cheap looking clothes that dont fit, believe me I tried them all on.
Look at Mrs Beckham, sje has looked very stylish throughout 4 pregnancies and you as a maternity retailer dont stock anything similar? What are you thinking?

PaulRoberts Fri 22-Mar-13 10:57:44

Hi Simon,

Great to have you on here. I have had a few issues recently with customer service at a SW London store (I won't go into details on here) and with the ever changing times and social media becoming so prevalent in today's society I have
taken to Twitter and Facebook to try and get answers but to no avail. Can you tell me what you are doing to improve your social media customer service?

Thanks and have a good day

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 22-Mar-13 10:59:12

Morning all, Simon is here at Mumsnet Towers and itching to get started so we'll be away in a minute.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 10:59:58

First of all thank you for your comments and questions. I’m delighted to be here at Mumsnet to answer them, and I hope to fit in as many answers as possible over the next hour. Let’s get started…
Simon

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:01:36

gazzalw

Hi Simon

We are a bit beyond Mothercare with our two (although DD is only 7 so could theoretically be dressed from there). Whilst DW would shop for baby-related items in Mothercare, by the time DD came along she found the shop expensive and non-inspiring. I would say that apart from using the Mother and Baby facilities (which really need to be revamped to get rid of the pervading dirty nappy smell!) she has probably only ventured in to a branch a couple of times in seven years. The baby/children's clothes seem expensive (and you never get good Sales reductions) and a bit naff/tacky. It seemed a good move putting ELCs within the larger out-of-town branches but even the ELC seems to have gone downhill in past decade or so.

I am sure that there is still a niche market for Mothercare but I think you need to go for a more personalised service, particularly pitched to first-time parents. And you are really missing a trick by not making the clothing range appeal to parents of 5 - 9 year olds who don't necessarily want their DCs dressed as mini-adults.

The whole 'vibe' of the Mothercare brand needs to move away from a rather old-fashioned clinical concept to something that is nurturing, warm and welcoming and goes that bit further (as with the John Lewis' children's deparment) to give parents what they want from pregnancy stage through to the tween stage. Perhaps holding NCT/anti-natal care classes at branches and offering a wider range of pregnancy and parenthood-related services.

Otherwise, good luck. You have quite a task ahead of you!

Having a DD and DS myself, I tend to look at MOthercare through two sets of eyes: one as a dad; secondly as a CEO. I recognise n the past our pricing has been too expensive and this is something I have been trying to address quickly over the last few months. In store today, you will see much better opening price points for a lot of our clothing, for example £2.50 t-shirts and £7 for a pack of 3 sleep suits. I recognise we still have a long way to go but I’m hoping that you’ll all see improvements.
Ensuring we have a full range of clothes from newborn to 8+ is a priority but, given our profile of customers, we are starting on the baby and toddlers clothes first, and we will get to the older children’s clothes later.

gazzalw Fri 22-Mar-13 11:02:25

I definitely think your stores need a designated 'first-time parent' consultant with whom parents-to-be can book an appt and get some real care and attention. That type of personalised service (and possibly ability to have follow-up appts at key stages of child's development) would really boost customer loyalty in the long-term, don't you think

Good luck with the discussion.

HippiTEEHoppoTEE Fri 22-Mar-13 11:02:26

I'm sure anything I could say has been said, but just to reiterate: your staff is rude and unhelpful, your stores are too crowded and your prices are too high.

I am impressed with your chutzpah to come and speak to this website, though. We have never been shy about saying what we think about Mothercare!

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:02:47

Meglet

We're just coming to the end of the Mothercare age, but the following often put me off the shop and could do with some improvement.

Cleaner toilets. On the several occasions we had to use them they were smelly, out of soap and grubby. Please employ regular cleaners to keep them spotless.

Cut back on the blue is for boys / pink is for girls nonsense. We don't need every toy / item of clothing in a pink or blue version. (Although I think I did see some smashing red / yellow / green welly options when I popped in last time). Lots of us parents were kids in the 70's and 80's when there wasn't such a divide between boy things and girls things, we can cope with unisex clothes and toys you know.

I do have one good thing to say, the Urban Detour 3 wheeler pushchair is ace, mine is over 6yrs old and still going strong. While I won't be having any more children whoever I hand it on to will have many more hundreds of miles out of it. Great design and very robust.

There have been a lot of questions on changing and cleaning facilities in Mothercare, such as meglet’s above. I regard this as a really important part of the service we offer mums, and we have a programme to roll out improvements as quickly as possible. Bear with us, as we hopefully get to your local store soon. It is definitely on my agenda.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:04:55

coppertop

I used to use our local branch of Mothercare a lot. The separate feeding room with comfortable chairs was excellent, and the toilet facilities were suitable for pregnant women, toddlers, and older children.

Then the store was renovated and those facilities disappeared completely. They now only have a toilet for people with disabilities, and astonishingly this is kept wedged open at all times. Presumably it is so that no one else uses it but also means that anyone with a disability who goes in there to use it must then go back out to the main area and find a member of staff to remove the wedge. Less than ideal if your disability means that you need to go very quickly. hmm

Who on earth thought that it was a good idea to remove the facilities that your potential customers would be most likely to need?

I am sorry to hear about the store with the disabled toilet wedged open. Can you please give me the details and I would be happy to look into. I agreed this is not a great situation.

We are looking at all stores as I mentioned before so will hopefully get to your store soon.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:05:53

lopopo

Hi Simon

I'm a new parent with a 7 month year old. Mothercare was a very strong brand for me but I found your shops to be quite poorly stocked - there never seemed to be the item I needed on the shelf when I wanted it. Your staff however are always friendly and helpful. It's a bit frustrating really - I want to shop with you more but other places are maybe doing it better. John Lewis's click and collect system would be something to look at and I think your clothes are nice but I'm not sure about you positioning. Where do you fit with brands like Next, Gap and JoJo Maman Baby? Why would I buy my kids or maternity wear from you?

Thanks

Congratulations on your 7-month old. Nieve my daughter is three months old at the moment, so maybe I should be asking you for some tips! We have in the past not had great availability of stock in-store. I’ve had this feedback consistently from mums over the UK. We are making big changes and investing heavily in more stock, so that people can have a better choice. I’m seeing a gradual improvement but it will take us a couple of seasons for us to get to the level I want to get to.
We already offer “Click and Collect” in-store. In fact over the last few months, we’ve rolled out next-day delivery to over 60 stores and we’ll get to 100% of stores in the next couple of months. Our next challenge will be to let you all know about it.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:09:46

EauRouge

Hi Simon, thanks for coming to talk to us and listen to our ideas.

A lot of the things I wanted to say have been said- please, please make extended rear-facing seats more available and let parents know about the safety aspect.

Also the pink/blue stuff; I really think Mothercare could lead the way in moving away from all that nonsense. We've all had enough and the tacky pink/blue stuff can be bought in a supermarket for half the price of Mothercare. How about some really good quality clothing that is more gender neutral so can be passed down from sibling to sibling? Like the denim dungarees you sell, they look ace (must pick some up for 4yo DD1)- stuff like that, practical and hard-wearing rather than mini-adult stuff.

And yes yes yes to decent slings! Baby Bjorns and the like are crap. How about having a sling event where mothers can try out a few different ones (ergos, wraps, ring slings etc) before they buy? More people would use them if they knew that comfortable ones were available, not like those back-destroying Baby Bjorns.

Could you be more breastfeeding friendly? Maybe give out flyers for local breastfeeding groups etc? I did see a breastfeeding stand in a branch of Mothercare once run by a local group, more of that sort of thing would be brilliant.

I have to say the customer service in my local branch is excellent and I would shop there more if I could find more that I liked.

Thanks for your question. Re. the pink and blue stuff: we try and introduce as many colours as we can. In fact we've got some fantastic bright colours in our ranges in-store at the moment, just in with our new Spring range.However, pink and blue do tend to be our most popular colours that people buy; in fact, my house has taken a definite pink hue since our DD was born.
I'm fully supportive of making clothes unisex, flexible and in different colours so we can provide choice for every mum.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:10:14

jbakedbean

Morning Simon,
I'm a mother of two boys, 4 and 2, with another baby on the way. As I am the people consultant at a business and IT consultancy which has recently completed some large retail technology change programmes I'm surprised mother are isn't embracing and using technology as a business enabler. Your website, click and collect, evouchers, advertising on other platforms eg ebay etc are all partnerships and opportunities which should be considered.

A lack of consistency in the staff, attitudes vary from exceedingly poor to reasonable interest, high prices without a value add service and a clearly a technology is a cost base and not an enabler approach could all be reasons for people no longer buying into the brand.

What is next for Mothercare in the baby/ toddler retail war?

Here is another one of my ideas: I have plenty more but I quite like this one: putting in a cafe and play area into stores. Why? Opportunities to introduce your brands of baby food and drinks, to parents. We all know how much time mums like to spend chatting to other mums and if you had a small play area (stocked with Mothercare or elc toys, mums would definitely buy toys if they knew before hand that there children liked them), or ran baby music clubs, story time, baby massage clubs, antenatal classes, breast feeding workshops, etc not only would it bring in a lot more traffic plus time spent would increase the likelihood of parents buying more with you. Increase brand loyalty etc. banks have done it, ( just a thought). It would show Mothercare had interest and invested in their products and customers and were not just a retail outlet.

I wish you all the best and if you would like to discuss more please feel free to contact me.

I fully agree with you about putting cafes in stores. We tested this in our new Edmonton store and it has been a great success - Costa has been a great partner (by the way, I love their coffee too)! We are working with them and other partners to see how quickly we can roll out cafes in our larger stores. Unfortunately we can’t fit them into all our stores, but do stay tuned for announcements of café openings.
Also in our new stores we have spaces we call “Mum’s space” where we hold classes, discussions and clubs. They have been a great success. Again, where we have space, we are working to repeat this in other stores.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 22-Mar-13 11:11:30

I love the line by Jamie Oliver's wife...gosh how rude that I can't remember her name! I also think the staff are often rude or seem disinterested. Those are my main thoughts!

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:11:46

lagoonhaze

You need to promote extended rearfacing car seats in ALL your stores. Unless parents see it as normal the whole dangerous practice of turning your baby around at 9 months won't change.

Its great you are stocking besafe and maxi cosi mobi but you need to extend this.

We're working with I-Size and all our suppliers on the new legislation. We're continuing our relationship with Which? consumer group on car-seat safety campaign, and it's an absolutely priority to promote specialist award-winning car seats. Unfortunately not all car seats fit all cars.

I would rather shop online at mothercare as stock is much better, however, you can't use giftcards online which is shocking and very annoying. I had a nightmare trying to buy something in store via website being ordered by staff....far too complicated and an easy fix I would think?!

Also, the staff in my store are pretty useless, but I guess you get that everywhere...

On the plus side, the changing/feeding facilities are a good idea but badly done, they are all decaying and dirty. I would use them as a last resort now I've seen better in other stores. These ate really important for mums especially when breast feeding, sort them out and promote them everywhere would be my advice.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:14:37

RaisingGirls

You are brave, nest of vipers round here, didn't you know? wink

I have a few comments:

Please, please, please get your staff properly trained to fit maternity/nursing bras. The number of women who come to me (nct bra fitter) with a poorly fitted bra by mothercare, risking their health as well as their comfort, is shocking and disappointing. There should be someone available in the store to fit bras all the time, and they should know what they are doing. Ill fitting nursing bras can cause mastitis, it's not ok to just have a best guess at what fits (and then not have that size in stock anyway) hmm

I am really disappointed with the pink/blue thing with clothes and toys. It's been said before by other posters, I know.

Please also train your staff on Extended Rear Face car seats, and then please also stock some in stores! A friend was told this week by a member of staff in one of your stores that "mothercare do not stock ERF seats because it is illegal to keep your baby rear facing after 1 year". Luckily my friend knows differently, but this kind of wrong information seems typical of the poor training of mothercare staff, sadly.

DD1 is 4 and she knows the mothercare brand, even though she can't read - this is a good thing as far as brand recognition goes for your company, I hope it stays in business. By listening to your potential customers through forums such as this, you are definitely heading the right way. smile

Don't worry - I have taken my antidote wink

Over the last 12 months, we have been doing a lot of training on maternity-bra fitting. We see this as a hugely important stage for the pregnant mum and a service that we should offer in all stores. We now have a trained bra-fitter in every store, every day of the week - over 2000 in total. Please let me know where we're not living up to your expectations, so we can see if there are any gaps, and re-train to your needs.

"Mum's Space"?

Oh that's a shame.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 22-Mar-13 11:16:21

Re the colours for clothing....pink and blue are "the most popular" because that's what is sold! I think if you look on some of our many threads here on MN, you will see that parents of girls and boys want bright, pleasant colours....not a colour coded uniform based on a child's sex.

CMOTDibbler Fri 22-Mar-13 11:16:42

My ds is 6 now, so we are pretty much out of Mothercare - but when I've been in to look for presents for friends it just been grim tbh. Stores jammed with things so they are hard to get round, or find anything you need. Nasty clothes with even the baby stuff firmly in girl/boy segregation. Yuck maternity wear. And a feeling of grubiness.

You need to find your usp - and that has to be reestablishing yourselves as the go to store for baby and toddler stuff. Well trained staff who know their stock and babies. Clean, well equipped feeding and changing rooms. Good basic maternity wear. Fabulous bra fitting. Lovely bright, unisex, baby clothes.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:16:54

chenrob

Hi Simon

I ws jsut wondering, how mothercare plan to tackle customer queries quicker in the future? I have tried calling before, emailing and then finally resorted to social media, yet my 'issue' was not resolved.

It would be good to get a reply without having to sit on the phone for hours.

Thanks

Over the last few months, we have been working to ensure we have sufficient staff to answer your queries, and I am seeing a dramatic improvement in our response measures. Customer service is really important for us and we need to continue to get better and better at it. We have changed our delivery carriers and seen a dramatic reduction in issues and, with improving stock levels, we are getting better at giving you what you need. I recognise we're not there yet, but I feel we are making progress.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:17:55

motherofallmuddles

Hi Simon
Thank you for coming to Mumsnet. I've been to your Edmonton Store and was really impressed by the changes, especially the Costa Coffee- good move.
My concern is that I understand you are closing down the high street stores in favour of the out of town retail parks. I get that this works when choosing a car seat however aren't you just another retailler deserting the british high street ?

I am so glad you liked Edmonton. This is just the start and we have learnt many lessons from this we will be rolling out to all of our stores in the future. We see a future both in the high street and out of town, although I think the range we offer in both of these will be slightly different. All of the stores we have been closing on the high street are because they are not profitable and it is really important for the future of the business we make the UK profitable again. Most of these stores are actually ELC stores not Mothercares and where possible we are putting the ELC products into the nearest Mothercare store.

I grew up in a high street store, my father?s grocery shop, and so I have a real passion and interest for continuing to see these thrive.

I notice a similar question from Amberlav and agree we need our staff to be as good quality out of town as in the high street. We have great staff and will continue to up the training too.

I found the baby-care room awful (Dundee). If a mother (or indeed a dad) does want to sit and either bottle or breast feed their baby, they have to do so in the same room where babies nappies are being changed. This is the same as being fed in a toilet in my opinion. There was no privacy for a woman who may feel uncomfortable feeding in public.

Also - there was no where near enough room for 4 buggies in there (there were two changing stations and two chairs to sit on), so couldn't be used by 4 parents at the same time. The chairs were not comfortable at all - particually if you are breastfeeding - they were high and rigid, not low and comfortable enough for most mothers who are breastfeeding.

You need to have seperate feeding and changing rooms - would you eat your lunch in a toilet?

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:20:49

bringonthesummer

How are you going to improve customer service in your stores ? I have experienced very rude staff in mothercare stores on several occasions including once in front of my Dd . Mothercare are in very competitive market and in mho good customer service can be make or break these days . I used to buy my daughter clothes in mothercare but she is past mothercare now and I do not like the boys clothes (Ds is 2 ) As others have said , look at John lewis , h&m and marks and spencer. Also not sure why but everything on mothercare website is always sold out ?!?

Love the name, cant wait for summer to come myself!
6 months ago we introduced a customer satisfaction survey called 'My Customer'. Every store now has measures every day on how satisfied their customers are. This has made a huge difference by holding a mirror up to our store staff and store managers. We are seeing significant improvements but recognise we need to get every customer experience 'highly satisfied'. We know it's good for us too because satisfied customers spend more!
We'll continue to monitor customer satisfaction and set the bar higher and higher.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:22:46

AmberLav

To follow-up on the deserting the High Street point, our local High Street branch is staffed by mums who have worked there for years, and are massively helpful, whereas our nearest "Large carpark" brand new version is entirely staffed by 20-year old girls who saunter around as it they have all the time in the world, and are pleasant but useless. If you are going to close the high street version, please move the great staff to the new big ones!

One good thing I've noticed recently is that most tills now seem to have (just) enough space for two buggies to pass each other, which was such a fundamental point to miss when most shoppers were there with buggies!

Hopefully the plans for the future include gift vouchers that can be used online, improvement to your computer systems so that ordering in store does not take hours, and sorting out your version of Collect in-store, as I had weeks of text messages telling me my item still needed to be collected, when it had been collected already.

I actually quite like the clothes, but I've only bought boys stuff, so can't comment on the girls clothes...

RE. gift vouchers

It's been a frustration for me that we haven't been able to do this. There have been technical issues. We are working through this now and hope to have it live in the coming months. I'm looking forward to sending online gift vouchers to my family too, as so many of them are having children at the moment.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:25:19

FrillyMilly

I live quite close to a large mothercare but rarely venture in. The problem I have is there seems to be no real brand identity. The clothes for example - the baby k range is awful trashy mini me clothes and the jools Oliver is more like Jojo maman bebe, the rest of the clothes range from classic style to character to similar to what is available in the supermarket. Pick a concept please.

The toys seriously needs a rebrand. Before I had children (4 and 1) the ELC was different to other toy shops. More educational toys, less plastic and great craft/messy play. As soon as mothercare took over all that went out the window and last time I went in it's blue for boys and pink for girls. Why does my daughter need a pink car garage? I would prefer it to be bright, colourful unisex toys especially since I have a daughter and a son. If this is something you have already done/doing you need to make it very clear as I am unaware of it.

I agree in the past we have been confusing for mums to shop in - in trying to offer everything to everybody, it has become confusing. We have some plans in development at the moment, to streamline our pricing and our clothes offering. You will see this begin to come in-store over the summer. However, we need to recognise we all have different tastes and at Mothercare we need to cater for all mums.

JaquelineHyde Fri 22-Mar-13 11:26:26

Hello

Just wanted to say that I echo a lot of what has already been raised on this thread and hope that you are able to take on board some of the comments.

However, I think it's really important that you hear when you are doing something right. So I would just like to congratulate your staff at the Eastbourne/Hampden Park store. I was in there yesterday and they couldn't have been more helpful or polite.

I am due to have DC4 in the next 3 weeks and so have been in and out of the store regularly over the last 9 months and have made all the larger purchases from the store purely because of the service I have recieved in there. My Mum is about to adopt a newborn baby which will bring her total to 9 children and she is also massively impressed with the service she has recieved and has continued to shop there for her baby.

Whilst the stores facilities could be better (seating, toilets etc) the staff are superb, always willing to find the best deal for me, point me in the direction of any offers, have organised home deliveries when things I want (car seat and isofix) haven't been in stock and they can always offer expert advice when asked.

Please, please do contact the store and let them know what a fabulous job they are doing. If there is any kind of in house company reward scheme then they deserve to win it. Highly, highly reccomended grin grin

FrillyMilly Fri 22-Mar-13 11:27:19

Thank you for the response and I appreciate you need to cater to many parents with different tastes but if I go to M&S, next, H&M etc I know what to expect even if it is not all to my taste.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:27:41

AnneEyhtMeyer

I have two Mothercare stores near me - a high street one and an out of town one. Both have their issues.

The high street store has a lot of things upstairs, but no lift. When DD was still in her pushchair this meant that I just didn't bother, as the only advice was to leave her downstairs. hmm

The out of town one has loads of items piled on the floor, making it difficult to get round and it looks scruffy. It reminds me of Woolworths before it closed.

The ELC toys are depressingly pink v blue. I went to get the Build IT Construction Starter Set, found it, took it to the till. The assistant engaged me in conversation about how good it was, and I told her I was sure DD would love it. As soon as she realised I was buying for a girl she was insistent that I needed the pink version. I told her it wasn't compulsory.

But forget all of the above, the thing I really want to say is this: I find the Baby K clothing range and the Myleene Klass branding very off-putting. Over-priced clothes and questionable styling for children. The tie-in with Myleene actually puts me off buying anything at all in Mothercare, it really seems to pull the shop downmarket.

One of the things I was aware of when I joined is that we had not invested in stores for a number of years. We have seen when we invest, for example in our Edmonton store, that mums love it. I am looking to invest in as many as I can, however I really need to get the turnaround in the UK completed first.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:30:06

yousankmybattleship

Hello. Sorry, I've not had time to read all the previous questions so apologies if I'm repeating any. Can I ask you about store layout? When my children were small I used two branches of Mothercare (one of which was one of the big out of town ones) and in both there was not enough room to get a buggy between the displays. The aisles were lovely and wide but it was impossible to browse anything else without leaving my buggy in an aisle and trying to dash in before my baby noticed and started wailing.

In the past our store layout has been quite cramped and difficult for buggies to go round; in fact, my first shop after Monty was born - before i joined - was very difficult. We are simplifying the ranges, de-cluttering some of the stores, so hopefully over the coming months, you'll see it getting better.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:32:49

HRH008

Hi Simon,
I missed out on Mothercare as I live in Germany. Mothercare is sorely needed over here. I enquired about the possibility of opening a store here but was told that it wasn`t possible. Is it? I am still interested, and there is a HUGE market here.
Cheers
008

We're in over 61 countries worldwide - something I'm very proud of - and are constantly looking for new markets to go in to. We tend to work with large franchise partners, who want to open many stores. If you forward your information to me, I can pick up your query directly.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:35:27

FoofFighter

Simon, are you opening any new stores in the Moray area? Such a hassle to go to Inverness or Aberdeen for baby things, or the vastly overpriced and understocked local independent pram shop hmm - you're missing a trick!

My first job was in Mothercare and made a pramnerd out of me grin

That's the first time I've heard the expression 'pramnerd' - I'm glad there are more people out there who feel the same way I do!
With two young ones, I'm constantly lifting them in and out of prams. We have no plans at the moment to open new stores, but as soon as we've completed the turnaround in the UK in the next couple of years, we'll be looking at new opportunities. I hope you can continue to shop at your nearest store or online in the meantime. Thank you for your support.

Skoggy Fri 22-Mar-13 11:36:15

Hello there Simon.
Many thanks for coming onto Mumsnet to read our suggestions and listening to our issues with Mothercare.
I'm not going to repeat what has been said so many times (high prices, closing stores, cafe / relaxing facilities etc.) but, I have an idea.

Why not work with / collaborate with the Mumsnet Local Ambassadors / Editors? They are people our there who are voices of the every day Mumsnetter trying to promote all things Mumsnet and getting Mums connected in the real world.

Just an idea. smile

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:36:47

JaquelineHyde

Hello

Just wanted to say that I echo a lot of what has already been raised on this thread and hope that you are able to take on board some of the comments.

However, I think it's really important that you hear when you are doing something right. So I would just like to congratulate your staff at the Eastbourne/Hampden Park store. I was in there yesterday and they couldn't have been more helpful or polite.

I am due to have DC4 in the next 3 weeks and so have been in and out of the store regularly over the last 9 months and have made all the larger purchases from the store purely because of the service I have recieved in there. My Mum is about to adopt a newborn baby which will bring her total to 9 children and she is also massively impressed with the service she has recieved and has continued to shop there for her baby.

Whilst the stores facilities could be better (seating, toilets etc) the staff are superb, always willing to find the best deal for me, point me in the direction of any offers, have organised home deliveries when things I want (car seat and isofix) haven't been in stock and they can always offer expert advice when asked.

Please, please do contact the store and let them know what a fabulous job they are doing. If there is any kind of in house company reward scheme then they deserve to win it. Highly, highly reccomended grin grin

We do have an in-house award scheme, and I'll be sure to get the store on and send them a personal thank you. Thank you for supporting us.

HippiTEEHoppoTEE Fri 22-Mar-13 11:38:10

Simon said "...although I think the rage we offer..."

Best typo ever!!!

grin

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:38:44

VisualiseAHorse

I found the baby-care room awful (Dundee). If a mother (or indeed a dad) does want to sit and either bottle or breast feed their baby, they have to do so in the same room where babies nappies are being changed. This is the same as being fed in a toilet in my opinion. There was no privacy for a woman who may feel uncomfortable feeding in public.

Also - there was no where near enough room for 4 buggies in there (there were two changing stations and two chairs to sit on), so couldn't be used by 4 parents at the same time. The chairs were not comfortable at all - particually if you are breastfeeding - they were high and rigid, not low and comfortable enough for most mothers who are breastfeeding.

You need to have seperate feeding and changing rooms - would you eat your lunch in a toilet?

Where possible, we try to have separate rooms. I'll pick up the Dundee point directly and have a look into it.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:40:07

happyfrogger

Hi Simon,

My local Mothercare (Wimbledon) closed down so I shop online. Unfortunately the 3 times I have done this I have had problems, including:

1) Items arriving in 3 separate packages on 3 different days from the same order
2) Twice, packages not showing up on the day I took off work and waited in

I accept problems happen very occasionally but 3 out of 3 is not good and has put me offer returning as a customer, which is a shame as I like your products. On calling customer services I was advised that this 'happens quite a lot' and that 'we suspect sometimes our drivers just nick stuff - they're not as good as they used to be' - I was so taken aback I didn't know what to say!!

Do you have plans to reconsider your delivery company?

We have recently changed our delivery company because I recognised we just weren't getting the service we needed. We now have next-day free delivery to most of our stores and we'll continue to roll that out. We're also making lots of systems-changes to get better in this area. Hopefully we will have a much better hit-rate in the future.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:42:03

milktraylady

Please read the bra intervention threads on mumsnet- I can't buy any of your nursing bras as I am already (at 37 weeks) outside your stock range. We need smaller back sizes & larger cup sizes! Thanks.

Also if staff are not really doing anything & there is a queue at the till & pregnant people in the queue- it would be good customer service to open more tills so we don't have to stand (in agony). Never happens in mothercare hmm

We're looking to extend our range in D-G sizes for our Autumn-Winter range, in store in July/August. We're also working to ensure we improve availability of the sizes we do stock. I see this as a priority for us to get right.

Where we have space we try and have chairs, but unfortunately we can't have them in all stores.

greatdreams Fri 22-Mar-13 11:42:12

"We need to recognise we all have different tastes and at Mothercare we need to cater for all mums" >> BIG mistake. No, you cannot reasonably cater to all mums effectively (we don't all go to Iceland you know...). I would expect better from a CEO.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:43:26

Mckenngp1

Hi I would like to ask why you have stopped selling school uniform and if you have plans to reintroduce? I was so disappointed not to be able to buy school uniform from mothercare as it was quite simply the best in my opinion.

We're looking at this at the moment because we see it as an important part of the service we provide to mums. It may take us a little while to get them, but we're certainly looking at it. We also think there is an opportunity for more shoes in store. Thanks for the feedback.

ShrewveTuesday Fri 22-Mar-13 11:43:35

What do you think your USP is?

Cherylmumofthree Fri 22-Mar-13 11:44:14

Hi everyone, I have just had a skim read of this...have any of you considered using your local baby shop instead of the big chains that, as several people have mentioned, are deserting the high streets? Local shops often offer far more personal service and it is in their best interests to go that extra mile for you. If the big chains are not doing what you would like, go and see your local shop and ask them to help!

ShrewveTuesday Fri 22-Mar-13 11:45:27

Oh gosh, you really need to practise saying "parents", not "mums". I know the brand is called Mothercare (and this is Mumsnet wink ), but still...

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:45:30

Wincher

My nearest branch is the Edmonton one and I am VERY impressed with it since its revamp - it's now somewhere I take my son as a destination as he loves the play areas, and of course I normally buy something while I'm there. Definitely a model to be copied elsewhere - the store is clean, spacious, stocks a good range of products, including the Clarks and ELC sections, has several play areas, plus a Costa Coffee.

However I would add my voice to the pleas for less gender division in the toys. I hate the way there is a pink version of everything. There's just no need!

Thanks for the feedback on Edmonton - we're delighted with how our customers are responding to it. On toy colours, we try to offer all options to people to ensure we give people what they want to buy. You'll certainly see less boy/girl differentiation in future, for example there are no pink/blue toys in the baby and toddler range.

I don't know if it's been covered yet but what do you think on the pink/blue issue ? Personally I'd like to see more choice of especially bright colours in your children's clothing. Also would like to see you stocking more for the older 7+ age group as often buying for several children across the age range. ie something for younger neice and would like to pick up something for my children at the same time. What do you think ?

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:48:04

MoetEtPantsOn

I am in Australia where Mothercare has just gone into administration, which is very sad. For me some of the comments on here do not resonate- the staff here are unfailingly delightful and helpful. I think that the prices were the downfall over here- the clothes compared poorly to many other more well known, local brands.

At the moment, all stock is being sold off, but even with the discounts it is still expensive by comparison - particularly the ELC branded items.

Are you able to comment on the future here? Is the out of town approach one that will be taken here?

Thank you

Unfortunately the board in Australia had no choice but to put the company into administration. I was very disappointed to hear this news. The process is with the adminstrator at the moment, and we will certainly look at all options to ensure that mums in Australia can have access to Mothercare products and clothes. But it is very early days in our response yet.

Maternity bras! I could only find one bra in store in a 32 back and that was only a c cup. No use to my at the time 32Fs. A lot of them when I look at the information only started at 34 and I'm a size 10 so not particularly slim.

Price. Everything I bought was cheaper elsewhere.

New baby clothes, it'd be nice to have something other than baby pink.

Have to say though, I can't fault the returns policy.
We've had quite a few things bought that we need to exchange sometimes twice, both with and without receipts and we've had no problem, very easy to do.
The feeding/baby change facilities in my local store are fab too

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:50:02

hufflepup

Hi Simon,

I'm an army wife and we were recently posted abroad. I was pregnant and ordered a lot of maternity things from Mothercare.

British armed forces serving overseas have their post delivered from the UK by the military postal service. We are given a BFPO (British Forces Posted Overseas) address and the normal postal service delivers post to a special UK sorting office where the military system takes over for free.

Why why why, when all Mothercare have to do is get my post to a UK address like any other, does it cost so much extra to have things delivered to BFPO addresses? It makes us very cross over here & could be seen as discriminatory against the armed forces. (Which isn't very nice of you really after we gave you the military wives choir and all that) please explain.

Thank you!

I have a BIL who is serving in Afghanistan at the moment and he has a young child too, so I understand your frustrations. Let me specifically look in to what we can do in this area as quickly as I can.

Mumsyblouse Fri 22-Mar-13 11:51:03

I am shocked there's no school uniform any more. I used to get summer dresses from there...

More shoes is a great idea, be even better if they weren't all Clarks (which I can get elsewhere).

Wibblytummy Fri 22-Mar-13 11:51:18

Please may I ask if there are any plans to introduce more varieties of reusable nappies to your stores? You stock a large and wonderful selection of disposable nappies but when it comes to reusable the only choice on offer is totsbots, even your own smart nappies were axed and removed from the shelves. It would be lovely to be able to browse and see the variety of nappies available and it may encourage others in to the world of reusable who were previously unaware of the vast choice about.

Also I won't echo the feelings on blue/pink but may I ask why there is so little variation in the designs for boys. Season after season I see beautiful new designs arrive for the girls and yet my DS is lumped with an appliqué dinosaur or some tired slogan about being 'naughty' or 'cheeky'.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:51:31

PurplePidjin

Hi Simon, this is an excellent place to do your research and I hope you manage to implement at least some of these suggestions.

There is some evidence to suggest that the type of baby carrier most commonly promoted by your store (and other big names) can contribute to hip dysplasia in very young babies. What are your thoughts on this? Is there a possibility that you could promote more natural ways to support a carried baby, either by stocking more ergonomic styles of soft structured carrier or promoting wrap types?

Also, there used to be an excellent product called the Mothercare Smart Nappy. There is a roaring trade in these on sites like ebay, yet Mothercare discontinued the line. Living in a society trying to reduce waste, what are your reasons for withdrawing support from the reusable nappy market?

Thank you smile

Thank you for your questions - let me look into the smart nappy, and I will pick up with the team on what we can do in the baby carrier area.

WomanlyWoman Fri 22-Mar-13 11:51:40

Lots of ppl inc me want more choice on colours for their kids, somany ppl fed up of the pink-blue divide and the pretty flower/littlemonster stereotypes.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:54:48

ShrewveTuesday

Oh gosh, you really need to practise saying "parents", not "mums". I know the brand is called Mothercare (and this is Mumsnet wink ), but still...

Everything that we provide is focused on the baby and the parents, but motherhood is a really challenging time for mums, and I think we need to ensure we give them all the help they need. Saying that, as a dad and fan of Mothercare, please read 'dads' whenever you see mums.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:55:26

HippiTEEHoppoTEE

Simon said "...although I think the rage we offer..."

Best typo ever!!!

grin

Nobody said being CEO of Mothercare would be easy smile

ShrewveTuesday Fri 22-Mar-13 11:55:47

OK, but why not just type "parents" and save me the bother? smile

Iamcountingto3 Fri 22-Mar-13 11:55:51

An 'end of webchat' type question: what's the one thing you have planned that you think will most impress those of us who've moved away from Mothercare...?

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:58:02

ShrewveTuesday

What do you think your USP is?

I think our USP has to be being the place that cares most for parents. Being a specialist, we need to ensure we cater for every mum's (and dad's) needs. If we offer the best service and the best products, we will have great success and give back to all of our loyal customers.

WomanlyWoman Fri 22-Mar-13 11:59:05

Would love to see consideration given to gender stereotypes across your range eg girls love dinosaurs and outer space and many boys love to play with dolls and pushchairs, what do you think?

ShrewveTuesday Fri 22-Mar-13 12:00:05

There really is a contradiction inherent in being a specialist and trying to cater for every parent's needs. It needs a rethink.

cakelover75 Fri 22-Mar-13 12:00:10

Hello, I may be too late to this but I wanted to add that I adore the Little Bird range of clothes. It's so refreshing to have a line of clothes which is appropriate for children and not as expensive as Next or Gap.

Iamcountingto3 Fri 22-Mar-13 12:00:51

Oh, and as one with a dd who refused to wear ANY 'girls' clothes from about 3 years old, or even enter a girls section in clothing shops, & a softly spoken, emotional ds, yy to all the other comments about over-genderisation.

Grannycas Fri 22-Mar-13 12:01:03

Be brave Mothercare and show the rest of childcare that you really do CARE. Take notice of advise from healthcare professionals, educationalists parents and GRANNIES make the 'must have' buggies, prams and pushchairs facing the pusher...I dare you to!

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 12:01:57

LaVitaBellissima

Hi Simon,

I have only used mothercare twice in the last 2 years, as I always found our local John Lewis (Kingston) had a much better range, and was a lot cleaner. I have spent an absolute fortune in there.
Most new mums are very paranoid about dirt, germs & sterilising everything, all the potties, baths etc in your Bentals Kingston branch were filthy and the maternity wear was unflattering and badly fitting. I walked straight out. I have to say the Kew branch is better with the nursing area, and the staff in Hounslow were really helpful.

I ended up buying my maternity wear in a Blooming marvellous closing down sale, they were a great brand which ironically Mothercare bought out. Are you still selling it under that name?

Have to say you should be sending Gazzalw & jbakedbean a nice gift for their brilliant advice!

We still sell Blooming Marvellous and we are extending the range - you will see new clothes in store at the moment. If there are any stores that aren't up to the clean standard you expect, please let me know and we'll get straight onto it.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 12:03:33

tumblebug

Hi, I shop at Mothercare quite a bit and really like a lot of your products - some of the clothes, ELC, some cuddly toys that I saw recently.

The baby change/ feeding facilities and toilets are great. Last week there were nappies and wipes in there - really useful.

Some things really frustrate me though, and put me off shopping there.

At my previous local store (a bigger store) it often felt like there were a lot of staff standing around doing not very much, but trying to get someone to help was really difficult - I would often wander round the buggy or car seat section, not be able to find anyone to help or advise, and walk out again. Very helpful staff at my new local store though.

Price labelling can be poor - still rely on sticky price labels, I often can't find a price on an item or on the shelf.

I took an item to pay (at full price), and found out there was a substantial price reduction - I very nearly didn't buy it as I felt it was too expensive, but was very happy at the price I paid in the end. Surely if price is reduced to encourage sales, this should be clearly marked/ advertised?

Thank you for your feedback on our facilities. We are looking at changing the way we price to make it much clearer, so we completely echo your comments.

ShrewveTuesday Fri 22-Mar-13 12:03:58

I guess he's gone now. Disappointed (though not surprised) to hear such gendered messages - from the Mum's Space (shudder) to the house taking on a pink hue since his DD was born, to the insistent mums mums mums message, to the "People want pink and blue. You lot are the minority" subtext...

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 12:05:50

cakelover75

Hello, I may be too late to this but I wanted to add that I adore the Little Bird range of clothes. It's so refreshing to have a line of clothes which is appropriate for children and not as expensive as Next or Gap.

Thanks for your comments. There is actually a new range of Little Bird in store at the moment, and we're continuing to expand this range.

ComradeJing Fri 22-Mar-13 12:07:36

Just quickly Simon, I had brilliant service at the Shanghai store a few months back. Someone really knowledgeable spoke to me about pushchairs and I was very impressed.

In contrast my last visit to a uk store was 5 days before Christmas 2011. There was NO winter clothing in the store that wasn't on sale (so nothing in DDs size). Everything was spring stock and useless for the weather. I walked out without buying.

Hello Simon.
How encouraging to see a CEO genuinely interested in the customers.

Can I just say, I love Mothercare, though I share in the disappointments of some of the other posters. DD is 5.

Positives:
We have loved going to a big car-park branch that has ELC and a Clarks shoeshop in it. To have Clarks in the back of a branch has been brilliant, as there is more space and focus on the fitting of children's shoes without the chaos and distraction of grown up shoes. I think this is great.

It is handy to have a toy section to cater for several early year ages. But I agree with less gender specific toys.

I love the baby-change/toilets/feeding facilities, they often need freshening up but it is a great help and makes shopping with little ones much easier.

I've found some great clothes for my little one. I loved the Humpfrey Elephant range for gift/special clothing.

Pixiphoto were in one branch, and that was good for affordable studio pictures as DD grew up.

Negatives (with still some positives):

A different and slightly closer car-park branch halved in size in the last few years and this made it impossible to get buggies around and even customers without buggies would get trapped by the customers with buggies!!

Clothing, although I have had some lovely bright and cheerful clothing for DD in Mothercare, lots can seem cheep in fabric/sewing quality, and I really dislike the Myleene Klass range, so much black in the range, and despite having gone through some gothic years I don't like black on any children as it zapps the colour from their skin. I like Myleene Klass, but also think her range is a bit mini-adult. But then people's tastes are different, and if it sells...

I do think Mothercare as a brand does need to be stronger. It used to be. I grew up in the 70s/80s desperate for my mum to buy me and her matching sailors dresses from the store blush, but she never did it! We have had some of my original (more classic styled) children's clothes for my DD.

Way back when I got maternity clothing from Mothercare I found it ill-fitting, and not very flattering. I ended up just not shopping for it in Mothercare.

I had similar trouble with car-seats. As we had an old car it was difficult to find a seat that fitted. The staff member serving us did not appear to have adequate training and appeared confused. So we went elsewhere for that too, until the most recent booster and back, where we got the customer service in a different store, but found the better price at Mothercare, though had to then go to a different branch to find one in stock.

When little one was small I got the customer card (credit) but as I hadn't used it recently it just expired without any notification through the post, or a replacement card, so I would need to reapply? if I had wanted to set it up again.

I also tried on-line with some larger products a few years ago, but the website did not seem to tally with in-store products, was hard to navigate, the search was not very reliable, and the time from ordering to delivery seemed very long and without much guidance as to the ETA or even day of arrival. This may all have improved since I tried this, but it was such a slow process I didn't do it again.

QUESTION
So please can we have Mothercare back as a strong brand, with polite well-trained staff, with well-stocked shelves for all ages, of quality products over a range of prices and ages, with lovely cafe, shoes with fitting service, toys etc with great on-line service and a better loyalty/credit card system? thanks

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 12:09:37

Iamcountingto3

An 'end of webchat' type question: what's the one thing you have planned that you think will most impress those of us who've moved away from Mothercare...?

The most important thing for me is that you notice a difference with everything we're trying to do both on line and in-store. You are the ultimate judges of how much we're improving. Thanks for your feedback today.

SimonCalver Fri 22-Mar-13 12:15:11

Thanks very much for your questions. I've really enjoyed the webchat today and i recognise - given your feedback - we have a lot to do. Thanks too for your support and loyalty, as i make the changes i need to.

I'd also like to invite you to join our Mothercare/Mumsnet panel so we can work together to improve Mothercare. We want to listen to mums at the start of their parenting journey and would like feedback on some of our new product arrivals and store designs/layouts. Please see this here for more information.

Have a great weekend, I'm looking forward to spending mine with Nieve and Monty (and Cathy)

Simon

CATSNDOGS Fri 22-Mar-13 12:19:47

hi, many good points and some bad all mixed together, sorry!

i have a 2 year old and our buggy & accessories, one wardrobe&drawer thing, 0-12 months baby grows and about 1/5th of their toys are from mothercare.

ive found that its not my one stop shop as on some products, you are very competitive but others you are not.

i dont really shop anymore at mothercare as i now find the clothes dont give vfm compared to asda/ sainsbury or tesco.

our dc does still receive many gifts from elc and these are always great, so the toys in my opinion are great.

i regret to say that if i was going to look at toddler things, id now go to John lewis or argos, either for their prices or their service or ranges. i find that JL sometimes stock less run of the mill items and this is appealing.

mothercare is great and i will shop there if child number 2 comes along as the shoe section and toy sections are great. i wouldnt shop there for basics.

I would need to see more diverse or unique brands which i wouldn't mind spending more on, better prices on day to day items and a store that is more inspiring/ special. less smelly loo and feeding areas would also be great.

ive also had fantastic customer care from your store when the shop display furniture didn't match the item i was sent exactly and i applaud you for that. in the days when my child was under 12 months, 8/10 times i went in there was a lovely talkative happy assistant but a few other times there were other staff who were frankly miserable and didn't speak at all.

i also wish to raise the car seat issue like others on here. in scandinavian and other markets, rear facing is law until the children are much heavier and older and sorry for being inaccurate, possibly up to 4-6 years old. my H and i had to travel 200 miles round trip up to sheffield to buy our child a rear facing car seat which will take them up to 6 years old!! why are mothercare not promoting the rear facing for longer?

gazzalw Fri 22-Mar-13 12:21:41

Very impressed with his approach generally. Good luck Simon! The Panel sounds an excellent idea, although we don't fit the brief with older children!

CATSNDOGS Fri 22-Mar-13 12:24:36

oh yes, a cafe would be a brilliant idea too!

Daisy299 Fri 22-Mar-13 12:24:37

Looks like I missed this webchat but just wanted to echo the comments on pink and blue. We were given a Mothercare catalogue last week and were horrified at the amount of pink/blue clothing for babies. This is no use for people who don't want to know the gender pre-birth, or (like us) don't want to ram the pink/blue thing down our kids' throats.

We did actually go pram shopping at the Leeds Crown Point branch and wondered if it was closing down as it was like a big jumble sale and the store was half empty.

cakelover75 Fri 22-Mar-13 12:28:29

In addition, I've found that the staff in the Anniesland Glasgow branch as well as the Paisley store are always very friendly and knowledgeable.

Finally, you should seriously consider opening a store at either Braehead or Silverburn (Glasgow). There are no shops like yours at these places and in my view there is a real gap in the market for them.

gazzalw Fri 22-Mar-13 12:42:15

the problem is that he will not be able to wave a magic wand, with an endless pot of money, and make the Mothercare brand instantly a lot more alluring and attractive. In an ideal world, yes but with the reality of the current economic climate, not.

Mind you I would say that parents, particularly first-time ones, will not skimp on the right products for their babes, and there is a baby-boom currently, so market conditions are ripe for exploiting if he can engender much needed, dynamic change.

I am sure that the customer care side of things is quite easy to address. Most staff are friendly and nice and generally do have the right attitude. If they don't, it probably says more about being demoralised and disincentivised over the years.

Wigeon Fri 22-Mar-13 12:46:54

Well, he seemed pretty genuine - well done Simon.

No one asked the biscuit question! shock

Totally agree on the gender point - most recently have been frustrated there over slippers and many of the clothes, particularly baby clothes.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 22-Mar-13 13:02:05

Yes...not convinced. He was VERY keen on saying "Mums" and wouldn't change though that's an old fashioned and sexist thing to say in terms of the discussion.

He also would not really acknowledge the pink and blue debate.

gazzalw Fri 22-Mar-13 13:08:28

The problem is that for every parent who hates the gender divide there will be one (possibly a grandparent or family friend) who loves it. I guess if the tills are reflecting that blue and pink sell well they are not going to fix something that they don't perceive to be broken (if that makes sense?).

Osmiornica Fri 22-Mar-13 13:12:12

Damn, missed this. Our Mothercare is the only shop in the town selling children's clothes but is always empty. I agree that the clothes are too expensive (for the quality they are) and are too segregated into pink/blue. Saying that's what people like when it's all that sthe hops sell is a bit daft.

I've also noticed the problem of lack of stock - they have loads of items in the one size but no others available. When you ask they don't have any more in stock and have no plans to get more in (because the shelves are full).

The one thing they did really well was their wellies - their own brand ones were much lighter than the character ones and so much better. I buy the same ones every shoe size change (please don't stop making them - although I wouldn't say no to another colour other than pink!)

Osmiornica Fri 22-Mar-13 13:13:41

gazzalw - but if the only (or majority) options available are blue/pink then how can the tills show anything other than higher sales for them?

Osmiornica Fri 22-Mar-13 13:14:58

The only thing to be done is to keep asking shops to sell other colours but they don't seem to want to listen and think they know what we want more than we do ourselves.

gazzalw Fri 22-Mar-13 13:17:17

[blush}. I get your point! They would never get away with these gender stereotypes in a lot of Northern European countries, for sure!

I thought he needed to think through his answer on why he talks about "Mums" and not "parents". I liked what he said about motherhood being hard work and wanting to support us, but then he finished a bit lamely saying "where it says Mums read Dads" or something. And ended up sounding a bit patronising, ill thought through, and slightly in-sincere. He was on the right lines IMHO, but given his position I'd hope for a more polished answer on that one !

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 22-Mar-13 13:38:40

Yes...Juggling. He came over as a bit of a twat then. Where it says mums read and Dads....er...no....just PUT PARENTS!

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 22-Mar-13 13:39:19

Gazz...they need to redress the balance. Not ban pink or blue.

Actually he ended up putting "put Dads whenever you see Mums" so I think that could certainly have been put better ! Otherwise it's like, "what, and just forget about the Mums now ?!"
(see his post at 11.54 for full context)

oh actually "please read Dads whenever you see Mums"

I know I'm being a bit picky here ... but in the same post he also talks about "the help they need" whereas, especially given he's a guest on here, wouldn't "the help you need" have come across better ? (talking about supporting Mums)

Getting away from such pedantry to more practical ideas, I like the idea of a cafe brew - that would be a great innovation. It could be really baby friendly with a variety of support for BFing or FFing and heating up baby food smile
(Even if that had to be a mothercare brand of babyfood)

AnAirOfHope Fri 22-Mar-13 14:55:11

Sorry but I dont think he listened at all. No commitment to ERF car seats as "they dont fit all cars" hmm

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 22-Mar-13 15:30:16

No Air....he was evasive and annoyingly dismissive actually.

This made me angry: it's an absolutely priority to promote specialist award-winning car seats. Unfortunately not all car seats fit all cars...

Why are safer rear facing car seats referred to as "specialist"? We should be working so that these are the norm.

And then he trots out "not all car seats fit all cars" which could apply to just about any seat, but makes it sound like ERF seats are a bit tricky to fit and might not fit your car. I've had a Besafe Izi Combi Isofix in a Nissan Micra and a Volvo and a Citreon so I think it's pretty safe to say that it probably does fit most cars except those with underfloor storage. I have not shopped in Mothercare since I did a "secret shopper" investigation in two stores in the Birmingham area. One said that they didn't stock ERF because there was no demand (bit of a chicken and egg), and the other one just lied and said that they didn't stock ERF because British cars needed specialist modifications to get them fitted.

I wish I had caught this chat because I would like to have pointed out that whilst manufacturers and stockists panick about selling old stock i.e. car seats that will soon be illegal under European law and work to misinform and mislead parents, British children are being killed and seriously injured because companies are not promoting ERF. It is that simple.

Sorry to put it so bluntly but this is one issue that really makes me angry.

That sounds like an important issue world - thanks for raising it.
Just wondering what initials ERF stand for ? (obvs to do with rear facing)
I only used rear facing with the baby seats (but mine are now 13 and 11 so some time ago)

maggiethemagpie Fri 22-Mar-13 16:17:11

I shopped in mothercare quite a bit for my first baby, now i am pregnant with my second I am not so keen. I just think the stock is overpriced. If I'm going to buy something special, I will go somewhere like john lewis where the quality is brilliant and the customer service excellent. If I am going to buy something basic I will just get it from sainsburys or tesco. Mothercare seem to offer 'basic' goods at 'special' prices.
Also the sales need to be discounted more heavily.
I feel like mothercare is operating in the past, the way shops used to before there was the choice and market differentiation there is today.
For example a cot pillow in mothercare was £12.99 with no cheaper alternative. I got a basic one in John Lewis for £7 (they may have had a more expensive one but I wanted a cheaper one)
I always feel like mothercare are trying to squeeze as much money out of me as they can, and whilst I know this is how shops operate I think the aim of the game is to make a profit without the customer feeling like this!

ERF = extended rear facing. It refers to keeping a child rear facing beyond the Stage 0 seats. There is more information at rearfacing.co.uk.

EauRouge Fri 22-Mar-13 16:25:16

ERF= extended rear facing. Recommendations vary the world over from 2-4 or 5 years.. I only heard about it through MN (and got the obligatory 2 Way Elite from the In Car Safety Centre) and I was glad I did. A lot of people complain that the seats are expensive but if they were more readily available and more people were aware then the price would come down.

I don't really understand why Mothercare seemingly can't be bothered to look into it. You can get an ERF seat to fit all but the smallest car.

This is a really good website about it.

EauRouge Fri 22-Mar-13 16:25:51

Oops, crossed posts with worldgonecrazy.

specialknickers Fri 22-Mar-13 16:56:58

I agree that he didn't seem to be listening. I'm particularly interested in the pink/blue problem since he didn't address that at all. I suspect he's probably selling babygros to nannas who don't frequent more current stores... I'm having a #2 in July and there wasn't a damn thing to buy in mothercare that wasn't utterly naff.

Simon, if you're still reading, here's a link to the sort of thing that parents really want (and will spend ££ on) http://polarnopyret.co.uk/.

Also, in a world of fireFIGHTERS, policeOFFICERS and the like, gender stereotypes make do one seem totally out of touch. Please call us parents. Not just mums, thank you.

Oh bugger and shame I missed it.

Simon.

Cheers for sacking me. grin

Suppose you did the right thing. I was dedicated to the old ELC brand not the Mothercare one.

The updated HappyLand is shockingly awful BTW. I would have been ashamed to sell it!

AmandinePoulain Fri 22-Mar-13 17:20:23

Yes Amazing I can't stand the new Happyland stuff, the shops just don't look like they've got so much playability if that makes sense? sad
I'm so glad that we bought lots for dd1 so that it can be passed down to dd2, I can't see me rushing out to but any of the new stuff sad

lagoonhaze Fri 22-Mar-13 17:54:57

With with respect you are taking about the new i size regs not extended rearfacing. They are not the same and the new regs fall short of what many parents want.

I want to see Extended rearfacing seats as standard in your stores. No other highstreet name has made it a priority so why not make it your unique UPS?

Im not remotely interested in Which? Reports until they split safety awards with consumer friendliness. Im far more interested in Swedish Pass / pass plus tests when looking at car seats.

Interested to know if you have stores in sweden? Are forward facing seats stocked? I expect not as britax dont even market in that country.

NoRoomForMeInMyBed Fri 22-Mar-13 18:00:48

I'm so glad Im not the only one that noticed that Mr Calver has no idea what an ERF seat is. I hope as a father he comes back and reads up on the facts, and educates homself and the Mothercare board. This could be an amazing opportunity for Mothercare to take the lead and promote something lifesaving and make it affordable for all.

It has been annoying me all afternoon, I feel better now it wasnt just me.

NoRoomForMeInMyBed Fri 22-Mar-13 18:07:08

lagoonhaze im swedish, not living there but no mothercare in Sweden, but also its the law to keep kiddies rearfacing until age 4, now recommended until age 5 as long as the child still fits in the seat weight and height wise. Seats are sold as infant carriers then a combi seat 0-4 age, then a high back booster. FF seats are simply not sold the way they are here.

AnneEyhtMeyer Fri 22-Mar-13 18:14:58

Well I don't think I've ever read such a blinkered webchat on here.

He ignored or dismissed virtually everything. I had a response to my post but it didn't actually seem to be responding to anything I'd written. Very odd.

I really hope he reads this back at his leisure, because certain things were coming through loud and clear and yet he behaved as if he hadn't heard.

After this I have even less faith that Mothercare will survive past Christmas.

Maybe Mothercare needs to get the CEO they had 10 years ago when it was a Brilliant Brand and seemed to know what they were doing?

Osmiornica Fri 22-Mar-13 18:47:19

"I don't really understand why Mothercare seemingly can't be bothered to look into it. You can get an ERF seat to fit all but the smallest car. "

I think you've answered your own question there. I would bet that most people don't even know about rear facing seats for older babies/children so no wonder there's no demand. Also how do they know there's no demand? Do they record everytime someone asks if they sell them - thought not.

You can get an ERF seat to fit all but the smallest car - not true - I couldn't find one that would fit our old car (an 15 year old Landrover Discovery), and in fact, LO's Group 0 car seat didn't actually fit very well at all, neither did the birth - 4 years car seat we bought.

Regardless of your car type - they should be stocking and promoting ERF seats anyway. The same thing goes for the their baby carriers. They only seem to stock (in store) the crotch-dangler type which are bad for both parent and baby.

blondieminx Fri 22-Mar-13 20:01:21

Hmm a very disappointing web chat - Simon really didn't want to engage on the 2 key safety issues

(a) ERF car seats (on which i agree totally with lagoonhaze and worldgonecrazy);and
(b) slings

OR on the gendering issue which is a real bugbear. Because he didn't come across as wanting to deal with any of those really important things I will not give up my time to sit on this panel he's hoping we'll join.

It was VERY clear what we thought - if he ignores our lovely free advice I suspect Mothercare won't still be around in 12-18 months... if they don't get the stores, staffing and stock right then people will go elsewhere, and we'll see another high street name fold.

Employing cheap/young min wage staff instead of experienced and knowledgeable people is a real false economy. They won't care about the heritage of the brand or be keen to make it strong for the future sad

lagoonhaze Fri 22-Mar-13 20:20:03

Visualhorse. I would be interested to know which seats you tried. There are some really compact ERF seats on the market now including the Klippan Triofix which is apparently as small as an infant carrier.

Sadly there just isnt the stockists nationwide of these seats so many people only get to try one or two ERF.

justforinfo Fri 22-Mar-13 21:02:35

I'm sorry I missed this. If possible, I'd like to know if you still target your staff on their car seat sales?

Last year my brother worked for mothercare and refused to be trained on car seats. I am very passionate and knowledgeable about seats (work in the industry) so wondered why on earth he would not take the extra training, knowing that he probably knows more from me telling him about seats than most of your 'specialists' combined. His response: because there are targets on seat sales, and I don't think that's right.

How, may I ask, can you possibly put a target on selling car seats? If you target your staff to sell 5 Maxi Cosi Priori XP's, how is that the best for your customers and their children? Profit before safety once again. Please stop this practice and encourage your staff (and yourself) to educate themselves on ERF and to put the children's safety first.

As with previous posts - there is no major retailer with a great rep for car seats, no major retailer promoting ERF, and no major retailer giving the impression they care about car seats and making a great effort to help parents know every single option available. - You're missing a massive trick!

lagoonhaze Fri 22-Mar-13 21:48:15

Wow Justforinfo! Bet we dont get a response to that. What interesting information.

chickensaladagain Fri 22-Mar-13 22:35:12

justforinfo

I used to work for mothercare and we weren't targeted on specific seats, but the daily targets were split into x amount of carseats to make it relevant to the staff eg, we need £800 today, that's 10 britax eclipse

has this moved to targeting individual seats?
if so I'm shocked because every bit of training I recieved was safety first and if it doesn't fit then don't sell it, even if that means we lost a sale

AnAirOfHope Sat 23-Mar-13 11:01:08

My dd is 16 months old but not yet 9kg as she is so tiny I dont want her in a forward faceing car seat yet as she is small.

I need to test the car seat to see if it fits our ford cmax and that she fits in it correctly.

We went to Mothercare and was told no they dont sell them as there is no demand (it was a Saturday). I tried Kiddiecare and they guy lied to me saying the MaxCosi Opal went to 18kg when it said on the seat 13kg and the he fitted it in my car and he had to move the passager seat back to wedge the baby car seat in place shock

No major high street shop stocks ERF car seats and the staff are not trained in the correct safety issues. The sad thing is I saw the sales guy showing the same seat to three more people and they only offered two ERF sad

How I would love to go to Mothercare try out a range of ERF seats and yes I would pay £££ for it in the same way I spend money on a nursary that only last for four years at most.

I can't remember which seats we looked at - it was well over a year ago now. We never got to actually fit one in the car as no where near us had them in stock, and all of the research I did, no seats seemed to fit our car. Our problem was that the actual car seat was too narrow and slopey (makes sense?).

Our infant carrier didn't fit well either - glad that we have now got a newer car. No way on Earth we could afford to pay £400 for a car seat. In fact, our 'new' car only cost twice that! Mothercare should be focusing on helping all parents on all incomes.

AnAirOfHope Sat 23-Mar-13 12:44:19

The cheapest ERF seat I have looked at is £99 from Kiddicare a britex two way elite 9kg to 18kg

ERF seats do not have to be expensive if there was more demand and bulk economy.

lagoonhaze Sat 23-Mar-13 19:56:54

Kiddicare don't sell Two way elite..... Think you mean the first class plus which isn't a erf seat.

Agree prices need to come down.

JacqueslePeacock Sat 23-Mar-13 21:52:03

Very disappointed that he didn't seem interested in the substance of most of what was said. Horrible blue and pink clothes not much nicer than Tesco's own at twice the price, instead of simple, bright unisex baby and toddler basics. Horrible use of "mum's space" instead of "parent's". No commitment to ERF car seats, not much interest in selling proper slings instead of badly fitting babybjorns etc. Why come on Mumsnet if you aren't interested in opinions? Or is your target demographic not the women (and men!) on here?

AnAirOfHope Sat 23-Mar-13 21:57:13

Sorry yes that was the car seat and the other was maxicosy Opal.

because there are targets on seat sales, and I don't think that's right.

WTAF?? I am truly shocked that sales are put before safety..... actually maybe I'm not that shocked.

Blondieminx Mon 24-Feb-14 13:54:40

Does anyone remember this webchat where MNer's kindly provided free advice on exactly what Mothercare needed to fix? The chief exec, Simon Calver who er, sidestepped many of our recommendations... has "stepped down" after a profit warning in January link to FT article, will be paywalled after today I think.

I'd like to see Mothercare be great again, the board should so appoint one of us to sort it out!

MunningCockery Tue 04-Mar-14 03:17:56

ZOMBIE THREAD ALERT: This is/was a dead thread. Are you sure you want to reanimate it?

Will be my first time 'reanimating' anything for bloody ages, let alone an entire thread (the power is making me giddy actually) so that's a yes from me ta now you've asked so nicely. wink

That aside however.

There is something painfully mortifying about the Mothercare threads. Is a bit like when your drunk sister [pick relee of choice, 'tis def not a 'gender-segregation' analogyhmm] logs into your FB and suddenly, high on that combo of direct access and loss of inhibition, makes total tit of you and her by messaging all your mates about how she would hic just like, soooo, improve stuff at wherever they happen to work.

Only prob being that she does not, of course, have a fucking clue as zero understanding of underlying and immovable issues (like a store property base that takes years to churn through) nor possesses any business skills at all. Other than knows likes wine so will lob a few words to the Tesco Wine Buyer.

Winces. Gets coat.

Blondieminx Tue 04-Mar-14 21:31:31

You sound very defensive. I also notice you've only posted on the Mothercare threads.

If we're talking about wincing, then posting that the people who offered opinions are "clueless" (on a thread containing lots of professionals and retail workers!) comes across as rather spiteful and nasty.

Why did you change the design of your window locks??? The old design was fine and the new ones are horrendous! I know they are meant to be made so children cant undo them but not adults too surely????

Just realised this was an old thread........... hmm

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