Mothercare has appointed Mark Newton-Jones as its Interim CEO, reporting to the Chairman.  The retailer said Mr Newton-Jones will not be formally appointed to its Board which will continue to search for a permanent CEO. Mr Newton-Jones’ retail career spans some 30 years. He was previously the Group CEO of Shop Direct, where he led the transformation and turnaround of the leading internet and home shopping business, leaving in July 2013 after almost a decade. Prior to this, he had a successful career in senior roles at Next Plc.  Alan Parker, Chairman of Mothercare, commented: "We are delighted to have secured the appointment of Mark as our interim CEO. His leadership skills and depth of experience in retailing through stores and online will further enhance our drive to deliver the recovery of the UK business to complement the strong and growing international operations.” Mr Newton-Jones said: "I'm very much looking forward to working alongside Alan, the Board and the Executive team of Mothercare, and to help in the transformation of the UK business whilst we continue to grow the successful international division." 

Medical innovation company JRBiomedical Ltd has appointed bébélephant as UK distributor of the Arc Meningitis Early Alert Pack. Originating from an idea that family doctors had to help parents quickly identify the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia, the reusable Arc Meningitis Early Alert Pack was designed in 2012 to provide parents with a simple way to replicate the 'tumbler test' in confidence together with a forehead thermometer and simple chart to monitor fever and medication.  A Chester-based paediatrician is reported to have said of the product: “The Meningitis Arc is a very useful tool for anyone concerned about the onset of meningitis and particularly for parents of unwell children.  "In meningitis, early diagnosis and treatment is crucial and I welcome anything that encourages recognition of all the many other signs and symptoms. The Arc has the potential to be a simple but effective aid for prompt recognition of the condition.” Elliot Bishop, CEO of bébélephant, is delighted with the new addition to his product range. He commented: “This is an important product for the UK nursery and pharmaceutical industry and we are proud to be able to associate ourselves with it, especially if it means the saving of young lives.”

Yorkshire baby goods retailer Direct2Mum Ltd has acquired Huddersfield’s Bambino Direct for an undisclosed six-figure sum.

Direct2Mum’s online retail business offers premium baby and toddler products and since its launch in 2010, the brand says it has doubled its turnover year-on-year.

Bambino Direct, part of the Buy It Direct group, is a multi-channel nursery stockist that sells big brand names. The acquisition means that Direct2Mum will benefit from the addition of more than 5000 products and 80 key brands to its current offering.

The next few months will also see Direct2Mum move into new 105,000 sq ft premises situated off the M1 at junction 37 and there are plans to open a showroom in the Spring.

Managing director of Direct2Mum, Alex Leslie, said: “We are dedicated to giving our customers access to high quality products as well as providing an excellent level of service. This deal has strengthened our commitment and allows us to continue to deliver our vision by offering a more extensive product range from renowned leading nursery brands, enabling customers to purchase everything they need from one easily accessible site. 

“It also reinforces our business strategy to build the D2M brand in the retail sector and has put us in a strong position for continued growth over the next few years.”

Nick Glynne, managing director of Buy It Direct, added: “I am delighted that Bambino Direct has found the right home. It's a cracking business with huge potential and Direct2Mum can give it the focus it deserves.”

As well as its retail arm, Direct2Mum also provides a virtual community for mums-to-be and parents seeking advice on pregnancy and parenting, from discussion forums, blogs, practical guides, the latest parenting trends and news, as well as pregnancy tools such as a Chinese gender predictor, due date calendar and baby name finder.

www.direct2mum.co.uk

Scooter accessories brand Scootaheadz has announced a new partnership with quirky online retailer notonthehighstreet.com and says it has already witnessed a huge surge in interest since the accessories were made available through the website, which attracts around two million unique visitors a month.

Popular changing bag designer Pink Lining is moving into new territory as it prepares to launch its first ever range of nursery bedding in conjunction with Suncrest Trading Ltd.

The range for PL Child will include a cot quilt and bumper set with soft toy, moses basket, musical cot mobile, sheets, sleeping bag, cuddle robes, nappy stacker, comforter and wall stickers.

Two new prints have been designed - Hop, Skip and Jump to Bed features a pink blossom tree, an owl, a bunny, toadstool and butterflies for girls, while One Starry Night has green dragons on blue clouds, multi-coloured stars and red trims for boys. These will join the “ever-popular” prints Little Lady ladybirds and Robbie the Robot for toddlers.

The range will be available from the end of May.

www.pinklining.com
 

The 45th Harrogate International Nursery Fair closed its doors on a high on Tuesday 25th March after three buzzing days of business, seminars, networking and socialising.

Adrian Sneyd, show organiser, comments: “The consensus of the majority of people attending this year, both in an exhibitor and visitor capacity, was that it was yet another great show. The weather was kind, there was lots going on for the entire duration, and for the majority, business was brisk.

“The BPA’s Seminar Programme was a new element to the show and most of the presentations attracted a huge turnout. GfK’s insight into ‘How customers are spending their money’ was packed, with people having to stand on both occasions; and Emily Hill of Write My Site talking about blogging to the mummy market filled every seat in the Seminar theatre.”

There are lots of positive comments about the fantastic atmosphere in Hall G which not only housed the Seminar Theatre, but also a Street Food Kitchen serving free burritos to visitors as well as booths offering ice-creams and smoothies. The North American Pavilion in the Royal Hall was also a talking point as it was the first time that this venue has been used for exhibition purposes since reopening after refurbishment in 2008.

The BPA’s Baby and Nursery Trade Awards (BANTAs) were announced during a glitzy evening at Majestic Hotel on Sunday 23rd March and the BPA’s Concept & Innovation Award winners were also announced on Monday 24th March at the show.

Priority booking for next year’s Harrogate International Nursery Fair, which takes place from 29th to 31st March 2015, opens on 1st May 2014 and this year’s exhibitors will have until the end of June to retain their stand space or request a change of position. After this, exhibition space will go on general sale and will be allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis. More information and booking forms can be found at www.nurseryfair.com

Nomi, the new long lasting children’s highchair from Evomove in Denmark, has been awarded the prestigious Red Dot ‘Best of the Best’ Design Award. This award is reserved for the best products within each category.

Time is running out for companies wishing to take advantage of the generous UKTi grants towards exhibiting at international baby trade shows and the BPA advises the return of application forms as soon as possible.

Newton Stovold Associates Ltd (NSAUK) supplier of nursery products including the multi-award winning BabyBay Bedside Cot, UV Travel Centre ranges and new, unique children’s furniture brand moodelli launching at Harrogate, have just appointed leading parenting and lifestyle PR Communications Agency, PJP PR to handle their account.

A bath tap protector for small children which transforms into a hand puppet has been named as one of the finalists for the first ever British Inventor’s Project at The Gadget Show Live in Birmingham.

There were double celebrations at Harrogate International Nursery Fair last week as the Baby Products Association announced the winners of both its Baby and Nursery Trade Awards (BANTAs) and Concept & Innovation Awards.

With only a few day to go and sold out, excitement is building for Harrogate International Nursery Fair as retailers and buyers from around the world prepare for the UK’s only baby specific trade show.

The Woolmark Company recently announced its collaboration with Dutch mobility brand Bugaboo. These two iconic brands have partnered to produce the luxurious Bugaboo Wool Collection - a range of 100 per cent Australian wool accessories.

Medela are delighted to announce that they have made the shortlist for the upcoming BANTA Awards. Two of the brands already award winning innovations have been recognised for their excellence and are in the running in the Feeding, Cleaning and Changing category. Final judging will take place at The Harrogate Nursery Fair this weekend, where the products will be on display. Winners will be announced on Sunday night at the highly anticipated BANTA awards ceremony.

CuddleCo, one of the UK and Europe’s fastest growing baby product companies, is delighted to announce that they have been shortlisted in not one, not two, but all four of the BANTA Awards they entered. The team, which is preparing to launch a world first travel solution, are certainly heading to Harrogate with a spring in their step having learnt the news!

Tickets for the Harrogate International Nursery Fair Party & BANTA Awards night, which takes place at the Majestic Hotel on Sunday 23rd March, are almost sold out as over 300 exhibitors and visitors snap up the chance to participate in an action-packed, top value night of entertainment.

Complete with a Harrogate International Nursery Fair preview, our March issue is out now. Click here to read it.


Mothercare plc is pleased to announce the appointment of Mark Newton-Jones as its Interim CEO with effect from 17th March 2014, reporting to the Chairman.  As this is an interim appointment Mark will not formally be appointed to the Board.  The Board will continue its search for a permanent CEO.

The Baby Products Association (BPA) has announced that it will be hosting a free three-day Seminar Programme at Harrogate International Nursery Fair (HINF) for the very first time this year from 23rd to 25th March 2014. All subjects presented will be pertinent to the nursery industry and guarantee to be interesting and informative for all visitors and exhibitors at the show.

Image: Splash News

Zara Phillips has been spotted out at the races with her daughter Mia - and her choice of Royal carriage for the baby is a brand new Maxi-Cosi Mura Plus 3 with carrycot, perfect for traversing those muddy race day fields.

Despite the fact that sales have declined by 0.3% in 2013, the Nursery market still grew in value by 3.1%*. Naturally the wider economic climate remains very influential, but for the next year and beyond, there is another highly significant factor: a fall in the birth rate.

Leading baby multi-specialist Chicco will be showcasing its fantastic 2014 collection at this year’s Harrogate Nursery Fair. With three new travel systems, an innovative co-sleeping cot, the completion of the car seat family, and a range of new toys, it’s set to be a great year for retailers to work with Chicco.

The deadline to join the BPA’s UK Pavilion at Children Baby Maternity Expo (CBME) in Shanghai this July is fast approaching and with limited space still available, any company wishing to participate is advised to get in touch as soon as possible.

The team at Worcestershire based organic baby bedtime specialists The Little Green Sheep are delighted to announce they have recruited another three members to their ever-expanding herd! New starters; Alice Marlow, Emma Alexander and Helen Nicholls will support the team with everything from marketing to customer services.

Premium brand Joolz has announced its launch into 10 Mothercare stores in the UK. Joolz will also be available to buy from Mothercare's print catalogue.

Geuther, the German furniture company internationally recognised for their high quality nursery products have recently appointed Fi & Becs Design & Marketing Partnership to assist with their UK marketing plans throughout 2014.

The deadline to join the BPA’s UK Pavilion at Children Baby Maternity Expo (CBME) in Shanghai this July is fast approaching and with limited space still available, any company wishing to participate is advised to get in touch as soon as possible.

It’s been just over a year since Russell Perry passed the helm of his distribution company, Bibs and Stuff, over to trusted staff and family friends, Debbie Grant and Lynda Candy, along with new owner and long-term friend, Erik Brummans. Erik is also the owner of Dutch nursery distribution company, ISI.BV and so for the past year the two companies have worked side by side, benefitting from each other’s strengths and the international opportunities created by having a presence in both countries. Now, Bibs and Stuff and ISI.BV are delighted to be uniting under one corporate identity, creating a stronger, single company that can offer brands a full distribution service throughout Europe, and also a private label manufacturing service for retailers.

Munchkin, Inc., leading designer and manufacturer of clever infant and toddler products, today announced the purchase of BRICA, Inc., leading innovator of auto, home and travel products for babies and parents everywhere. The acquisition adds BRICA's strong travel portfolio, including market-leading auto sunshades and mirrors, to the innovative product portfolio that includes infant categories such as bath, care, safety, travel and feeding sold under the Munchkin and Lindam brands respectively in the UK and main land Europe.

Four Strong Corporation (www.fourstrong.com), a U.S.-based manufacturer, licensor, and creator of consumer products and entertainment media, announces that its bestselling stroller accessory, The Mommy Hook® (www.themommyhook.com), is now being distributed on a worldwide basis by TOMY International (www.tomy.com), the global toy and baby products company.

Milkysnugz, the brand behind the super innovative bottle comforters, is delighted to announce that the recently launched range will be available in the world’s second largest retailer, Tesco. It is no surprise why Tesco were impressed by Milkysnugz; the new Universal Collection has taken the product to the next level making it compatible with 98% of baby bottles, meaning all the more babies can enjoy drinks with a hug.

Top 40 Boys and Girls Name Data released by Babynames.co.uk shows Ava, Freya, Noah and Oscar claim the most popular baby names of 2013 while the popularity of George plummets.

Just when he thought this year couldn’t get any better Asobi’s Managing Director, Thierry Bourret, had the great honour of meeting well known businessman and entrepreneur Theo Paphitis. Having been selected as one of Theo’s Small Business Sunday winners, earlier this year, Thierry was delighted to be invited to a special event in November to celebrate 2013’s successful tweeters!

St James’s Palace was the perfect setting for Christmas carols and Yuletide fayre on Tuesday night, in the presence of HRH The Duchess Gloucester, Patron of The Lullaby Trust and lauded international actress and Charity Ambassador, Ms Emilia Fox.  The Duchess and Ms Fox attended The Lullaby Trust charity event to celebrate 25 years of the charity’s Care of Next Infant (CONI) programme.  Over 300 people, including 250 health visitors, were also in attendance at this delightful event, supported by the No1 safer sleep brand in theUKandAustralia, The Gro Company.

Disney UK today officially announced a 12-month partnership with leading pregnancy and parenting website BabyCentre to engage pre-natal and first time mums with the beloved Disney’s Winnie the Pooh brand and keep it front of mind at every step of their new baby’s life. For years, the cuddly bear and his friends have been enchanting families worldwide, and with two thirds of parents having enjoyed the adventures themselves as children, today three out of five mums and dads are now sharing the much-loved tales and classic characters with their own children.

Sugarjack is delighted to announce the opening of their first office overseas. The luxury changing bag brand has experienced exceptional growth over the past two and half years, and has set up the office in Asia to support their international developments.

Sugarjack changing bags have already made a big impact in Asia, and due to the sheer volume of interest the team felt it was key to their international expansion to have an office solely dedicated to this market. The new premises in Hong Kong will be the first point of call for all retailers and distributors based in Far East / Australasia as well as being the hub for all product development and production. It will give the team a unique opportunity to engage personally with all new business contacts and highlights their commitment to developing the brand worldwide.

2014 is set to be another great year for Sugarjack; they will soon be introducing their new Diffusion range, a new collection of competitively priced, fun and colourful changing bags, to offer every mum the chance to own a stylish and practical changing bag. They are also set to introduce some new designs to their luxury signature collection, so watch this space! With the collection growing day by day, it makes complete sense for the British brand to start achieving similar success abroad. Apart from Asia, the team also have retailers in the USA and across Europe, it won’t be long before every parent gets a taste of Sugarjack!
Commenting on the Hong Kong Office, Founder of Sugarjack Trevor Hayward said ‘This is a strategic business decision to support international growth. It has always been our aim to make Sugarjack a global brand, and so far we have secured a lot of interest, especially in Asia. It is a natural development for the brand, and it makes sense to have a team on the ground that can nurture existing relationships and create new opportunities. We are confident that this will be a great success.’

smarTrike®, the world’s leading tricycle brand has had an extremely busy and fruitful year! The company, who is committed to creating truly innovative tricycles and is passionate about outdoor play has launched two new tricycles, their very own television advertising campaign commissioned their 2013 play survey, launched their Dream Day Out campaign and most recently taken a Gold award at the Best Baby and Toddler Awards taking their awards success this year to a grand total of six! 

2013 saw smarTrike® introduce the world’s first tricycle with a patented Swivel Wheel and Touch Steering®, completely revolutionising the trike experience for parents and children alike. To support the launch of the Dream, the team also created their very first television advertising campaign and were seen in multiple parenting publications. They also launched smarTrike & Go a completely unique 5 in 1 tricycle with a shopping cart attached, the ideal solution for parents on the go!

The team at smarTrike® are incredibly focussed on emphasising the importance of traditional play, and this year they commissioned a survey to discover more about how play values have changed over the years. The brand learnt that parents expected a lot from playtime, not only did they want it to be fun; they wanted it to boost educational and developmental skills. 50% said they were found it difficult to engage their child in traditional play, with many commenting that technology was taking over playtime! smarTrike® used the survey to raise awareness of the changing nature of play, and remind parents that traditional activities can be just as fun and engaging as technology.
Determined to make traditional outdoor play accessible to even the smallest of children, smarTrike® launched their Dream Day Out campaign, teaming up with Wickstead Park, one of the country’s leading play spaces,  to offer their youngest visitors, aged 10 months and up the chance to explore the attraction aboard their very own tricycle. In 2014, the brand has plans to team up with similar attractions.

The year also saw smarTrike® achieve success in six different award schemes. Most recently they took home a Gold in the Best Baby and Toddler Gear Awards for Best Outdoor Toy, which follows two Gold awards in from Loved by Parents, a prestigious Mums Love badge from popular parenting website Babyworld.co.uk, were Highly Commended in both the Rainbow Toy Awards and Dad’s Choice Awards and were shortlisted for a Mother and Baby award. This is truly the kind of success play brands dream of! 

Commenting on the brand’s UK activity throughout 2013, Head of Marketing Communications Osnat Feingold said ‘This has been an incredible year for smarTrike®! The launch of our new technology firmly positioned us at the top of the tricycle market, and the supporting advertising, marketing and PR campaigns have ensured parents know that we are a truly innovative brand who is committed to creating the best trikes out there. We have lots of exciting plans for 2014, so fans should watch this space!’

Ardega Limited have been judged as one of the businesses set for growth and success in 2014 and have been awarded as one of the EADT Future50 2013 Winners.

After launching an innovative reward system for families in November, Mumbucks HQ is thrilled to announce that their product has been officially taken on by Jojo Maman Bebe. The team are over the moon to have already secured interest from such a significant retailer with their unique product. Mumbucks is a universal reward system that revolutionises the way parents reward their children. With the support of such a trusted outlet, they are excited about introducing their system to families everywhere!

SnoozeShade, the British brand dedicated to providing sleep and shade solutions for on-the-go babies, is delighted to announce that one of the world’s best-selling baby experts, Gina Ford, has given the multi award winning range her seal of approval.

It has been a phenomenal year for Asobi, the UK’s leading distributor of inspiring toys, and the recent appointment of David Bottomley as Commercial Manager will further support the company’s on-going growth and future plans for development. Not only has Asobi strengthened its portfolio in 2013 having taken on prestigious French brand Vilac and the innovative Red Tool Box collections, they have also experienced significant interest in their inspired Slow Toy Movement. Asobi has gone from strength to strength and this strategic appointment will ensure the company’s continued success.

The Duchess will show her support of the charity’s Care of Next Infant (CONI) programme at a Festive gathering of 300 people at St James’s Palace on Tuesday 3rd December 2013 – for Christmas Carols and Yuletide fayre. 

With an already bursting cabinet of award wins, TotsBots were thrilled to learn that there are more to add to their enviable list of accolades! They now have not one, not two, but four new badges of honour to add to the fast growing collection and they could not be happier. Following the announcement of the first ever Best Baby and Toddler Gear Awards the reusable nappy brand, that put the cool in cloth, could not believe they were placed in every category they entered!

Medela were delighted to hear that TV journalist and reporter Cherry Healy has chosen the Swing, their Which? award winning product as her breastpump of choice! The star announced the news on Twitter last week following an urgent quest to find an efficient battery operated breastpump.

Konfidence, the award winning designer and manufacturer of premium buoyancy wear for babies and children, is celebrating success across the Pond after almost doubling turnover in the USA.

Essential travel accessories for babies and toddlers from Benbat are now distributed exclusively in the UK by Little Saints. Designed specially for ‘on the go’, Travel Friends features a range of Head and Neck Rests in different designs offering full neck and head support, which are super soft, double-sided for summer or winter use, and come with concealed magnets for gentle neck support. The Total Body Support cradles young babies in their car seats, supporting their head in a comfortable position while helping to prevent flat head syndrome and is double sided for winter and summer use. ‘Feed & Go’ is an easy to set up baby booster seat with inbuilt storage space that fits securely to adult dining chairs, while being easy to carry; GoVinci Trolleys are easy to wheel cases for young children with an exterior art display and GoVinci thermo lined My First Lunch Box features an art display section. Car Sun Shades in different shapes and designs complete the ranges offered by Benbat.

BÉABA has, following hours of rigorous testing within the first ever Best Baby and Toddler Gear Awards, scooped Nursery Trader’s Best Weaning Product of the Year! The award-winning French Company entered the much loved Babycook Solo into the highly competitive Best Weaning category.

Far from the traditional image of adoring mums and stern fathers, it is dads who are by far the bigger spenders when it comes to gifting their children. Nearly a fifth of dads (18.6%) stated they happily spend over £100 on average for each present, whilst only a tenth of thrifty mums (9.5%) would do the same.

Having jumped eyes wide shut, Amy Sanderson gave up her established career overseas in Interior Design, returning to the UK to launch her new reversible kids clothing line, Flippers, in Oct 2013.


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