Mothercare the brand known across the globe for its children’s and mother-to-be range of offerings is betting big on India. As Mohit Mathur, General Manager and Director, Mothercare Sourcing says, “Mothercare has an aggressive growth plan
for India,”. He further adds, “We are investing time and effort to build the right product portfolio for this diverse market without losing the integrity of the global brand. We aim to be the number one parenting company in the world, and the Indian market is no different to us in achieving this vision.”
a specialist retailer of products for mothers-to-be, babies and children up to the age of eight opened its first store in 1961 in Surrey. In India, it is largely retailed through EBOs but is also present in some MBOs operating under the Shoppers Stop umbrella. “At present we have 47 Mothercare and Early Learning Center EBOs and 39 MBOs across India. Our plan is to reach out to both Tier I, II and III cities across the length and breadth of the country in the next three years by offering value based products that engage the target customer,” Mathur elaborates.
In June 2007, the group acquired Chelsea Stores Holdings, the owner of the Early Learning Centre (ELC) brand. ELC was founded in 1974 originally as a mail order business offering toys and books with educational content. In 1985, ELC was acquired by John Menzies Plc who continued to expand the estate and ELC became a well-known high street brand. In September 2001, ELC was the subject of a management buyout, during which ELC streamlined its operations, exited non-profitable product categories and stores and grew its sourcing operation in Asia.
The group sources the products it sells globally so as to anticipate and meet the needs of its customers. Explains Mathur, “We do it by having people in key operating countries. Whilst the principal office of the group is in the UK, it has invested significantly in its sourcing and supply chain operations in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bangalore, Tirupur, Delhi and Dhaka so that we can better understand and serve our customers’. The specialist knowledge and service differentiates us from the competition thereby enhancing the Mothercare and Early Learning Centre brands.”
Optimistic about the India growth story Mathur feels that India is set to triple its market size to achieve $ 80 billion (over Rs 440,000 crores) in less than a decade. However, he says, “The road map is so far uncharted although there are several conversations talking about consolidation, branding and lifting of geographical trade barriers, but this will not be an easy and straightforward task. We need to be cautious yet optimistic in our outlook and need to tread carefully before taking any giant leaps. There has to be greater emphasis on understanding core strengths and mapping them to consumer needs. Resources and talent are still undercooked in this country and if success is to be achieved, we have direct greater focus toward grooming the right people to lead backed by strong IT tools that help understand nuances of this market.”