‘Strong festive trading’ for nursery chain

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YORKSHIRE-based nursery brand Mamas & Papas enjoyed strong Christmas trading, The Yorkshire Post understands, as it nears the completion of a restructuring process to safeguard its UK retail arm.

The UK’s nursery market has come under increasing pressure in recent years, with specialists like Mamas & Papas being hammered by price competition from supermarkets and online rivals.

Accounts filed at Companies House for Mamas & Papas (Holdings) reveal that the company’s pre-tax losses widened from £1m to £10.9m in the year to March 30 2014.

The directors’ report to accompany the account said: “The group performed below expectations during the year..due to the trading performance of the UK retail subsidiary..The impact of the UK retail business has seen group turnover decrease from the prior year by £5.8m to £137.6m. In response to the difficult trading conditions in the UK, the directors implemented a strategic review of the group in order to create a sustainable financial and operational platform to return the business to profitability. The key actions following this review were the partial sale of the group to provide additional finance, refinancing of the current banking facilities, a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) of Mamas & Papas (Retail) and a head office redundancy programme.”

In September last year, creditors, including landlords of 60 of its UK stores, voted to approve the CVA at a meeting in central London. The CVA, which was overseen by Deloitte, relates to Mamas & Papas (Retail), the company which operates Mamas & Papas’ UK stores. Other companies in the Huddersfield-based group were unaffected. Last summer, the retail industry veteran Derek Lovelock was appointed interim CEO. In July, the private equity firm BlueGem took a majority stake in the formerly family-owned business. The CVA process is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of this year. Mamas & Papas was founded more than 30 years ago by David Scacchetti and his wife, Luisa.