Mothercare, the maternity specialist retail chain, is understood to be considering buying baby and maternity retailer Blooming Marvellous to boost its clothing offer.
Blooming Marvellous was bought out of administration by Elaine McPherson, owner of value chain Ethel Austin, and a group of investors in February last year.
The brand was established as a mail order business but at its height grew to around 14 stores. It now trades from seven shops.
Sources close to Drapers said that staff at Blooming Marvellous this week had been briefed to prepare to move to Mothercare’s headquarters in Watford.
Commenting on the speculation Singer Capital analyst Matthew McEachran said: “The success of Early Learning Centre, which it [Mothercare]acquired three years ago, has given Mothercare a good track record when it comes to acquisitions. Equally, it has turned away from brands that it felt might not fit into the group, or which might require too much investment to be turned around. Chad Valley and Ladybird (former Woolworths brands) might have been amongst those.”
He added: “Given that Mothercare has a natural position in the maternity wear market, and given the scale of its property restructuring programme, acquiring a brand such as Blooming Marvellous would be both a good fit and scalable. Could this be a £50m brand in time, and contribute £5m to profits? With Mothercare behind it, and if sensibly scaled up again, quite possibly.”
Mothercare said it would not comment on speculation.
Last month, McPherson acquired Ethel Austin out of administration for a second time.