Mamas & Papas ‘to review business’

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The co-founder of nursery chain Mamas & Papas yesterday refused to rule out the possibility of store closures, after private equity firm BlueGem Capital Partners took a majority stake in the business.

The deal with BlueGem, which is the company behind London’s Liberty department store, was announced less than two months after Huddersfield-based Mamas & Papas revealed it was seeking external investment for the first time.

Huddersfield-based Mamas & Papas, which was previously 100 per cent family-owned, employs more than 1,500 people, and counts singer Gwen Stefani among its celebrity fans.

Mamas & Papas trades in 59 countries and is opening shops in key markets such as Russia, China and the Middle East. In the year to March 31 2013, turnover rose 13 per cent to £108.2m.

Founded more than 30 years ago in Huddersfield by the husband and wife team of David and Luisa Scacchetti, the couple have been joined on the management team by daughters Olivia and Amanda. The Scacchetti family said they were looking forward to a strong future, working closely with BlueGem.

Earlier this week, a national newspaper report suggested that Mamas & Papas is considering a store closure programme.

When asked if the company was planning store closures, Mr Scacchetti said: “Mamas & Papas is a brand leader in own product design and development, continuing to invest £5m per year on research and development so they can launch more award winning products and continue to be the number one choice for global parents.”

Mr Scacchetti said the directors were pleased to welcome Bluegem’s investment. He said the new investment provided the opportunity for management to review all aspects of the business.

He added: “No final conclusions have yet been made from our reviews, and while there has been a lot of speculation at present, the company has no firm news and cannot give any further information than this.

“That said, Mamas & Papas is a modern multichannel retailer, reflecting the changing shopping habits of modern parents. Parents bounce between channels on their parenthood journey and as such Mamas & Papas bricks and clicks strategy will always be key to their proposition.”

A Mamas & Papas spokesman stressed that all retailers review their store portfolio, and he didn’t believe that any of them would ever rule out closing and opening new stores.

Mr Scacchetti added: “The directors believe that this is the right step for the company and will help us achieve our aim of becoming the world’s favourite nursery brand. BlueGem are a very well-respected private equity firm and have a great track record of working with expanding businesses such as ours, providing both investment and advice. Over the next few months the directors will be working closely with BlueGem to create a

new plan for the future that will enable us to accelerate our global expansion plans.”

Marco Capello, managing partner of London-based BlueGem said: “We are thrilled to support the Mamas & Papas team in continuing their quest to become the world’s favourite nursery brand. Mamas & Papas has always been a quality, premium brand and a haven for expectant parents.”

Mr Scacchetti confirmed that talks about selling the stake had been going on for more than six months.

He added: “The figures involved are confidential.”