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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 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 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.

worldgonecrazy Fri 22-Mar-13 15:54:11

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!

worldgonecrazy Fri 22-Mar-13 16:23:14

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

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)

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.

AmazingBouncingFerret Fri 22-Mar-13 17:04:47

Oh bugger and shame I missed it.


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.

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