When Mothercare named Lovefilm founder Simon Calver as its new boss this time two years ago, its message was clear: it wanted online expertise to rival Lovefilm (latterly ‘Prime Instant Video’) parent company Amazon.
But since Calver took over in April 2012, trading has remained tough. In 2013 it made an annual loss of £21.5m, and although in November it returned to profit for the first time in three years, in January its shares dropped after it issued a profit warning. Group worldwide sales fell 6.1% in the 12 weeks to January 4, with UK like-for-like sales dropping by 4%.
So it didn’t come as any great surprise that this morning the company announced Calver had handed in his notice ‘with immediate effect’. Responsibility for the day-to-day running of the company will lie with chairman Alan Parker, while Calver will ‘provide transitional support’ until the end of March.
It’s not all bad for Calver: he leaves with a £250,000 golden goodbye, although he won’t get a bonus payment for 2014 (should've been a banker Simon), and the deferred shares that formed last year’s bonus ‘will lapse’, said the company.
Parker nevertheless tried to keep his chin up: he pointed out that the board ‘remains confident in the underlying strength of Mothercare and expects results for the year ending March 2014 to be in line with current market forecasts’ (so not that strong, really).
‘Mothercare has a strong executive management team which is very capable of running the business in the interim while the search for a new CEO is underway,’ he added. Investors didn’t seem entirely convinced: shares opened almost 3% down on Friday’s closing price. Well, you can’t have everything.
MT is sure this isn't the last we've seen of Calver and looks forward to his next adventure...