Mothercare makes ‘leftfield’ appointment to boost online profile

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The boss of internet movie rental firm Lovefilm has been appointed the new chief executive of struggling retailer Mothercare.

Simon Calver will join Mothercare on April 30 after seven years at the helm of Amazon-owned Lovefilm, as the parenting group moves to boost its online presence in the UK.

The mothers-to-be, babies and children’s goods group, which runs around 350 stores in the UK, has suffered months of declining sales and has placed the UK business under review.

Nick Bubb, independent retailing analyst, said the appointment was a “leftfield” move but added: “We can see that his e-commerce and branding experience will come in useful in exploiting the Mothercare and Early Learning brands world-wide.”

Mr Calver, 47, who has previously held senior management positions at Riverdeep, Dell, Pepsi and Unilever, said: “While there are near term challenges ahead, I am committed to the recovery of the UK business and the accelerated growth of these aspirational brands around the world.”

Mr Calver joins the company after former chief executive Ben Gordon stepped down last November amid a weakening profits outlook and tumbling share price.

Chairman Alan Parker has taken on executive duties in the interim and will return to his non-executive role when Mr Calver joins the company.

Mr Parker said Mr Calver’s “international perspective will be invaluable” as it looks to expand Mothercare and Early Learning Centre globally.

Mothercare’s most recent figures revealed a three per cent decline in like-for-like sales in the UK in the 13 weeks to January 7.

The figure was better than the seven per cent decrease reported in August and included a five per cent increase in December, although this performance was helped by comparisons with the cold snap the previous Christmas.

Mothercare has been propped up by growth in its overseas mar- kets.