In the latest blow for the high street, Mothercare has confirmed it is to axe 50 stores, resulting in hundreds of job losses.
In a move that has stunned many observers, the struggling baby goods retailer has also rehired its former chief executive, Mark Newton-Jones, who was sacked only last month following poor Christmas trading and a profits warning.
The group, which said it was in a "perilous" financial position, has also agreed a rent cut with landlords for 21 of its stores.
The 50 shops will shut within a year, slashing the retailer’s UK portfolio by more than a third.
Former Tesco executive David Wood, who had taken on the chief executive role just over a month ago following the sacking of Newton-Jones, will become group managing director.
Perilous financial condition
In a statement, Mothercare said: "Recent financial performance, impacted in particular by a large number of legacy loss making stores within the UK estate, has resulted in a perilous financial condition for the group."
Mothercare has already nearly halved its store numbers over the past five years. It had planned to have 92 outlets by 2023, but has now accelerated its closure plans and will have just 73 by that year.
As part of its restructuring, Mothercare has also arranged a refinancing package worth up to £113.5m, which includes £28m raised through issuing new shares, and an extension of its existing debt arrangements.
Mothercare chairman Clive Whiley said: "These measures provide a solid platform from which to reposition the group and begin to focus on growth, both in the UK and internationally."
Since January, Toys R Us and Maplin have both filed for administration, while fashion retailers such as Select and New Look have embarked on radical store closure programmes.
When asked to confirm which stores were closing, a spokesperson for Mothercare said:“We can’t comment on individual store closures until all staff have been informed, which is our absolute priority.
"Of course we regret having to close stores and the impact this will have on colleagues. However, we had no alternative to executing a CVA.
"The business was in an unsustainable situation and was in clear need of an appropriate resolution and today’s comprehensive measures provide a renewed and stable financial structure for the business, and will allow Mothercare to accelerate its adaptation to the shifting dynamic towards online.”