England

Mothercare: Parents share their memories

Frankie Brunker
Image caption Frankie Brunker's children Ayla and Jago still use the Little Bird lamp that was bought for their sister

As Mothercare announces the closure of all 79 of its UK stores, parents share their memories of the baby brand.

It was once the one-stop shop for all things baby-related, but Mothercare has been loss-making for years and now 2,500 jobs are at risk.

Frankie Brunker, from Hertfordshire, said the brand held poignant memories for her after she bought a Little Bird bedside lamp and cot bedding during her first pregnancy in 2013.

Image copyright Frankie Brunker
Image caption Frankie Brunker said she made meaningful connections with Mothercare ranges

"Sadly we never got to use it for our daughter as she was stillborn at full term a couple of months later," she said.

"We'd barely bought anything for her as we were fortunate to have so many hand-me-downs from relatives, so those purchases became even more meaningful as items that were connected just to her.

"I would sit in her beautifully-decorated nursery with her little light on when I was pregnant with her little brother, hoping against hope that he would arrive safely.

"Thankfully he did in October 2014, and we were able to welcome another little girl into our family in March 2017."

Image copyright Frankie Brunker
Image caption Frankie Brunker said she loved Mothercare's Little Bird clothing range

The family still use the lamp, while the brightly-coloured Little Bird clothing range became their favourite, she said.

"It was not only because of the association with rainbow babies born, the name given to babies born after a loss, but just because we loved the colourful gender-neutral designs," she said.

"It will be a huge shame if Little Bird goes along with Mothercare."

Image copyright Aisa Kara
Image caption Aisa Kara said Mothercare's online offering was not as strong as competitors

Aisa Kara's parenting journey started in Mothercare when she used its Babybond ultrasound scanning service.

She has fond memories of having her early pregnancy scan in the store on Nottingham's Castle Marina Retail Park.

"I was so anxious waiting for my 12-week scan, and I don't think either of us could believe it was actually happening, so we booked our private appointment," she said.

"Everything was OK and we viewed a heartbeat, so we left elated, and as it was in Mothercare we got to buy our first item of baby clothing at the same time. That's when it dawned on us that it was all real."

Image copyright Aisa Kara
Image caption Aisa Kara dressed her children Arabella and Theo almost exclusively in Mothercare clothes

Ms Kara, who is mother to Arabella, aged five, and Theo, two, said: "We bought all our nursery items and pushchair from there, and my daughter and son have been dressed in Mothercare almost exclusively.

"My only complaint is that the online experience isn't as good as you would have expected from a company trying to keep up with the market."

Shona Parker, from Carterton, Oxfordshire, posted a picture of a baby name book from Mothercare.

"My own mum used it to name a couple of my siblings; I now have a baby of my own and drew inspiration from it," she said.

Image copyright Amena Khan
Image caption Amena Khan said Mothercare could have created better social media campaigns

Amena Khan is disappointed to see Mothercare go as it was her "first port of call" for essentials for son Ibraheem, 10 and daughter Aleena, eight.

"It was a no-brainer - if we needed something for the babies or for me as a new mum, we'd pop into Mothercare," the entrepreneur and influencer from Leicester said.

"The physical experience of being able to compare products and ask the sales assistants questions couldn't be beaten."

But Mrs Khan said the brand could have gone further to enhance customer experience.

"Mothercare could've easily created social media campaigns to amplify the voices of diverse mothers and fathers in today's society," she said.

'Massive loss'

Lydia Robinson, 28, from Dudley, West Midlands, said she "couldn't live" without Mothercare.

"I've used Mothercare from the moment I found out I was pregnant in March 2018," she said.

"I have bought his pushchair, high chair, Moses basket, clothing, walker and all bathing and feeding items from the store.

"I couldn't imagine buying anything so essential and important over the internet and not seeing it in the flesh beforehand.

"Mothercare staff are always so knowledgeable and helpful, they make you feel at ease and never pressure you in to buying anything unnecessary.

"It's a unique High Street store with everything you need throughout pregnancy and once your baby has arrived - there's nowhere else like it. Losing a store like this would be a massive loss."

Image copyright Shona Parker
Image caption Shona Parker drew inspiration for her baby's name from this Mothercare book

Justine Roberts, Mumsnet founder, said users were saddened to hear about potential job losses at Mothercare and the demise of a high street "legend".

"That said, lots of users report being sometimes frustrated by low levels of stock, cluttered stores with variable service and high prices," she said.

"But many are deeply invested in the brand and its long years of service to UK families and very much wish to see it stay on its feet."

Mumsnet users have been swapping stories about shopping in Mothercare to prepare for the arrival of babies who are now adults.

One user talks about accompanying her pregnant daughter to the same local store that had provided baby clothes for the now-expectant young mother.

Another has a specific memory of Mothercare's "blissful" breastfeeding rooms, adding: "Wall-to-wall breasts, and more latching-on advice from strangers than was decent."

Some people responding to the news on Twitter said the prices in the stores were too high.

Sharron Taylor said when her four children were younger Mothercare was the only store with a dedicated area to feed and change babies.

"As a first-time parent their help was reassuring and priceless," she said. "As a parent I wanted to view what I was buying.

"My then children loved to see Timothy Tree, so every shopping visit we would go and say hello to the tree.

"Sadly they moved to a retail park when my granddaughter came along 15 months ago.

"That personal touch had gone; that visible choice to look and browse was gone; and [there was] no baby changing or feeding area."


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