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Mothercare hunts new chief executive after the man hired to lead it to a multichannel future resigns

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Mothercare is starting a search for a new chief executive after Simon Calver, the ecommerce expert brought in to lead the business into a multichannel future, stepped down with immediate effect.

Calver, who previously ran LOVEFiLM for seven years, will leave Mothercare at the end of March, after less than two years in the job.

When his appointment was first announced, back in February 2012, Mothercare chairman Alan Parker said Calver’s “ecommerce and brand expertise will enable Mothercare to accelerate its development as a multichannel retailer in the UK.”

Today Parker said he had done that. “Since Simon Calver joined Mothercare in April 2012, under his leadership the company has made progress in implementing the Transformation and Growth plan. In particular, Simon Calver’s ecommerce expertise has allowed Mothercare to accelerate its development as a multichannel retailer in the UK. We wish him well in the future.”

But while Calver has overseen increased ecommerce sales at the company, he has not yet seen the UK business restored to overall profitability. That, said Parker today, would continue to be Mothercare’s strategy, at a time when international operations are strong and growing.

In its latest financial results, half-year figures released in November 2013, the company said that UK like-for-like sales had fallen by 1.4%, while underlying UK losses were trimmed to £14.9m. Overall, it reported an underlying pre-tax profit of £2m, thanks to international profits of £25.2m. But Direct in Home sales grew by 11.5% to £48m, while direct in store sales grew by 4.1% to £18.7m.

A profit warning followed, however, with a January interim management statement showing group sales down by 6.1%. UK sales and margins had been hit by “the highly promotional nature of the Christmas period and lower seasonal footfall.”

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