Farmers has issued an apology for a Mother's Day email that may have caused offence to its customers.

The mass email went out to customers this morning with the subject line "Your mother sent us her wish list".

About two hours later the department store chain sent another email with an apology for causing "hurt or offence".

"Farmers would like to apologise for sending an email this morning with a subject line which may have caused hurt or offence. It was certainly not our intention," said the email.


"In hindsight we recognise we should not have made such a statement. We acknowledge we need to give more thought and empathy when we are communicating with our valued Farmers customer community."

The subject line may have upset those without mothers.

Farmers head of marketing Dean Cook told the Herald the email subject line was an ill-conceived idea.

"We have received emails from our customers who said they appreciated that we sent an apology so quickly."

One customer, Sally Lewis, told the Herald that she complained to Farmers over the email. "I said, 'My mother died 16 years ago, and stop this please', then later I received another email to apologise."

Another said that the email may have caused offence because many of the store's customers were aged 50-plus. "If you are in the 50-60 age group, potentially you will have lost your beloved mother more recently - in the last year or last few years."

But another customer, Fiona McAllister, said she received both emails and said she "could not understand what all the fuss is about".

"[It] just sounded like marketing spin. A bit cheeky as most mothers probably wouldn't dream of issuing a wish list but sending an apology seems over the top."

UK Department store Marks and Spencer sent a similar email on April 30, which went to some of its New Zealand customers, with the subject line "Your Mum Called - She Wants These Gifts".