FD and Brunswick take sides in Mothercare deal

Brunswick and FD are working on either side of a deal that would see two of the UK high street's baby and childcare giants unite.

Babycare retailer Mothercare has inked a deal with Chelsea Stores Holdings that could lead to the purchase of the Early Learning Centre (ELC) chain for £85m. Mothercare is advised by Brunswick while Chelsea Stores Holdings uses FD.

The combined group would have 435 UK stores and 420 franchised outlets around the world. Analysts are already predicting some store closures, which could present a further issue for Brunswick to manage.

FD consumer director Jonathan Brill heads the ELC account. Brunswick senior partner Susan Gilchrist leads the Mothercare account.

Chelsea Store Holdings is owned by a consortium comprised of Waterstone's founder Tim Waterstone, US private equity firm Rhone Capital and publisher DC Thomson. Waterstone has used FD before, working with the agency for an attempt to buy back his eponymous chain of book stores last year. The £280m deal never materialised. He sold the chain to WH Smith in 1989 for £9.3m.

The acquisition is not the first time this year Brunswick and FD have worked on a deal that appears to be reaching a satisfactory conclusion for both sides.

Barclays' proposed purchase of ABN Amro saw Brunswick working for Barclays and FD brought in by ABN for the month-long saga (PRWeek, 21 March).

Both agencies were also involved in this year's biggest sporting takeover - the £435m purchase of Liverpool FC. The Liverpool deal saw Brunswick advise initial suitors Dubai International Capital. FD advised the ­successful bidders, US ­tycoons George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

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