The Peterborough founders of baby and child equipment retailer Kiddicare have spoken of their sadness after it was revealed the 44-year-old brand is to be axed.
Entrepreneurs Neville Wright and Marilyn Wright created Kiddicare in a bedroom in their Peterborough home in 1974 and built it into a £40 million pound turnover empire employing about 200 people before selling in 2011.
Now current owner, home furnishings firm Dunelm, has announced the last remaining Kiddicare store at the PE1 garden park, in Peterborough, and the Kiddicare.com website will be axed early next year.
The company says 26 jobs will go following the store closure.
Mr Wright said: “When we sold the business it had a perfect successful formula to take the sales to £220 million.
“Unfortunately, the buyers changed it and went in a completely different direction losing £170 million over three years.
“The business could have been turned round very easily at that point.
“It was sold to a jobber for £2 million and then to Worldstores.
“After that Dunelm took it over and I did think with the right people they could have been successful once more.
“But sadly a fantastic business has now gone.
“Marilyn and I feel extremely sad for all the job losses since we left in 2011.
Mr Wright added: “I felt I needed to write my autobiography for future generations and to help others facing the ups and downs in growing a business. It’s called The Answer Is Yes, Now What Is The Question and has been a number one best seller on Amazon.”
Kiddicare’s troubles started after the couple sold the brand for £70 million to supermarket chain Morrisons.
It was eventually acquired by Dunelm, which has been cutting back the business ever since.
It closed the call centre and warehouse at Cygnet Park, Hampton, with the loss of 176 jobs in 2017 and moved the store to PE1. Its iconic premises in Cygnet Park were sold to European Tyre Enterprise for £10 million.
At the time a Dunelm spokeswoman said: “We currently do not have any plans to close the Kiddicare store.”
But, after the firm announced 4.6 per cent sales slump across its stores, a Dunelm spokesman said: “Eighteen months since bringing the Kiddicare brand into the business, we are confident the most effective and route forwards is to operate this category under the Dunelm brand.
“We will be ceasing to trade Kiddicare as a standalone brand and website in the coming weeks and months.”