Mothercare chief executive Ben Gordon has presented his plans to reverse the fortunes of the Early Learning Centre, ahead of the £85m merger between the two high street children’s brands. Daily Telegraph. The Times

Mothercare plans to create dozens of 'Centres for Parenting' across Britain. Concessions will open in 10 of Mothercare’s 73 out-of-town stores by Christmas and, if successful, the format will be rolled out into the rest by next spring.

Early Learning Centre runs 210 toy stores on the high street, and Gordon wants to incorporate the chain into his group’s larger, out-of-town sites.

He said: 'If you’re not out of town, you’re missing a significant opportunity for selling product. We already have Clarks shoe stores in most of our out-of-town sites and by adding ELC we will have a really exciting specialist destination for parents.'

The combined group will operate 435 UK and 420 international franchise stores. Gordon's strategy for Early Learning Centre includes international expansion and a rationalisation of the British store portfolio.

Mothercare is set to publish details of its all-share agreed bid to acquire Early Learning Centre' owner, Chelsea Stores Holdings, this morning.

Gordon, who is credited with transforming Mothercare's pretax losses of £24.8m in 2003 into pretax profits of £24.2m last year, will employ a similar strategy at the educational toy retailer, which suffered a pre-tax loss of £9.8m in the year to May 2006.

A spokewoman said the enlarged entity does not anticipate mass postmerger store closures in the UK, but is in the process of evaluating areas in which both brands trade.