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Mothercare hires LoveFilm chief executive Simon Calver

Chairman Alan Parker removed previous chief executive Ben Gordon just two weeks after a heavy profits warning last October

Mothercare has poached LoveFilm chief executive Simon Calver to lead the turnaround efforts at the struggling high street chain.

Calver, a former management consultant and branding expert, ran LoveFilm for almost seven years, taking the business through a merger with rival group Video Island before selling up to Amazon in a deal thought to value the business at £200m a year ago. He is thought to have made a considerable amount from the sale.

Mothercare chairman Alan Parker removed previous chief executive Ben Gordon “by mutual consent” just two weeks after a heavy profits warning last October. Gordon had led the Mothercare business for nine years.

Shares lost a third of their value following the autumn profits warning and have not recovered, although they rose 4% on Wednesday, to 208p on news of Calver’s appointment.

The stock is among a band of high street retailers heavily targeted by short sellers, who bet on the price of shares falling.

Parker, the former chief executive of Whitbread who had been at Mothercare less than two months before the October profits warning, has been leading the executive team on an interim basis since Gordon’s departure. At the heart of recent troubles, he has said, is that the group “lost its way in its home market”.

In an urgent bid to cut costs Mothercare is closing more than 100 of its 350 UK stores over a two year period. Its profits have been squeezed as cash-strapped parents have spent less on more expensive items such as pushchairs.

Commenting on Calver’s appointment, Parker said: “He is a highly successful business leader with experience heading multinational consumer facing organisations. His e-commerce and brand expertise will enable Mothercare to accelerate its development as a multi-channel retailer in the UK and his international perspective will be invaluable to the continued rapid expansion of Mothercare and Early Learning Centre globally.”

The group announced a half-year underlying pretax loss of £4.4m in November, and last month it said UK comparable sales over the Christmas and New Year period had been down 3%.

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