Mothercare boss pledges to get tough

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The uphill challenge faced by the new boss of Mothercare was underlined as a dismal UK performance dragged the parenting retailer to a £103m loss.

Presenting his first set of results, Simon Calver, who joined at the end of April, said he would be “ruthless” on costs as he rolls out a three-year turnaround plan.

The group saw like-for-like sales tumble 6.2 per cent in the year to March 31 in the UK, where it plans to cut store numbers from 311 to 200 by 2015 in a bid to save £13m a year.

A £55m writedown on the value of the group’s Early Learning Centre and nearly £10m in UK restructuring costs triggered a bottom-line pre-tax loss of £102.9m, compared with an £8.8m profit the previous year.

Mr Calver, who came to Mothercare from internet movie rental firm Lovefilm, said: “We have a long way to go, and the plan to bring the UK business back to acceptable levels of profitability will take three years.”

The new UK estate will comprise 95 out-of-town sites and 105 high street locations and will focus on profitable outlets.